Mock concern about HIV used to promote US corporate profits

This is a story in the Guardian about the HIV crisis in Russia.

The first half of the article is a factual – and troubling – presentation of the situation in Russia with respect to HIV. But the second half is full-on promotion of the Western solution. Western responses to the HIV virus include: sex education in schools, methadone substitution programmes for heroin users and ‘harm reduction’ advice programmes to at risk groups. The author of this article just promotes these particular approaches without any sense that they may not necessarily be suitable for Russia – or desired by Russians. He mocks a senior Russia official for statements that Russia does not need sex education in schools; because people can learn about life from literature. He blames Putin (gosh, no surprises there) personally for the ‘conservative political climate’ that makes it difficult to implement harm reduction programmes. (Harm-reduction programmes provide state acceptance of illicit behaviours. At risk individuals are to be advised on how they can reduce the harm to themselves whilst carrying on with their illicit and illegal activities. Such programmes are very popular amongst Western liberals. However; even in the West they are challenged by people, often from the point of view of religious or moral values, who argue a) that on principle we should not accept this watering down of values and b) that ‘abstinence’ programmes are as effective at reducing harm as ‘harm reduction’ programmes and c) that ‘harm reduction’ programmes often have the side-effect of encouraging more young people into the illicit behaviour. Methadone substitution programmes are also criticized from a sociological type perspective. Here, the argument is that they are based on imposing a disease model on people; to the benefit of the health industry). The author of the Guardian article reports on the fact that due to funding problems local clinics in Russia often run short of anti-viral drugs used to treat HIV. He does not link this funding shortfall to the wider picture which includes Western sanctions on Russia; sanctions which the US President recently boasted were destroying the Russian economy. [1]

This article appears in the Guardian apparently as reportage. It is not even tagged as opinion. Western liberal ‘journalists’ often simply write on Russia from the point of view of their own ideology and values but even by these standards this piece stands out for its one-sided and propagandist approach. It may take the reader a moment to find the clue. The clue is in a small byline at the top left of the page which admits that the ‘content’ is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This foundation is used by computer entrepreneur Bill Gates to promote his vision of development around the world. This vision relies heavily on solving problems of development by training people to be skilled consumers of the products of US based global corporations: GM modified seeds and agricultural chemicals, computer software and, now, perhaps methadone and HIV drugs. See here for a piece where we review the report of campaign group Global Justice Now into the Bill Gates Foundation. Global Justice Now’s report on the Bill Gates Foundation shows that in Africa it acts in concert with the interests of multinational argi-business. [2]

Of course; many of the proponents of these kinds of models of development probably genuinely believe in them. It is a nice coincidence that what they believe in is very profitable for themselves. But this doesn’t mean per se that they are being cynical. However; these models can be criticized and questioned. And in practice they are; from multiple viewpoints. When an article in a newspaper simply promotes these unquestionably as the only solution we know we are in the realms of corporate propaganda.

So. A piece ostensibly about concern for people with the HIV virus in Russia turns out to be propaganda for a particular model of development. A model which puts Western global corporations at the heart of any solution. One brand of methadone is Dolophine. This is produced by US Pharmaceutical company Roxanne Laboratories. [3] Another producer of methadone, appears to be UK registered company Rosemont Pharmaceuticals Ltd. [4] It appears that the substance is out of license and there are multiple manufacturers either producing the generic substance or branded variants.

The writer Ivan Illich wrote about ‘right-wing’ (in his words) institutions that seek to make people passive consumers of goods and services provided from above. Right-wing institutions try to create dependency and addiction in their users. The relationship between the institution which provides the service or product and its consumers is hierarchical and manipulative. Methadone treatment would be a case in point. Why let illegal drugs dealers make money out of drug addiction when we can do it ourselves? The reference in the article to a ‘conservative political climate’ is a way of referring to religious values without actually mentioning the word ‘religion’. This ‘climate’ may have been fostered by the present political regime in Russia but this regime is an elected one and these ‘conservative’ policies have widespread popular support. Russians just have more adherence to these kinds of values than the decadent Western liberal class. [5] In this article there is zero respect for these cultural differences. Russian ‘conservative’ values are attributed solely to ‘Putin’. These values are directly blamed for the suffering of people with the HIV virus. As usual with propaganda of this kind the author is careful to find a Russian who does have a leaning towards Western liberal values who can be used as a mouthpiece. The tactics of attributing everything in Russia which doesn’t suit the Western corporate/liberal world to ‘Putin’ and of using Russian liberals to voice the values of the Western liberal elite are designed to avoid the appearance of criticizing the Russian people and of superimposing values. Power works stealthily. As usual with Western liberal propaganda it is just taken as ‘beyond argument’ that the values of the Western liberal class are superior. All this, mock ‘humanitarian’ concern which masks profit seeking and imperialism, is the norm for the US corporate machine. It is slightly alarming though to see this being served up as ‘journalism’ by a newspaper in the UK.

Addendum

It isn’t just methadone. If ‘conservative’ values in Russia can be overthrown and the disease model of behaviour adopted then this will open up scope for other opportunities. For example; currently in Russia it is not legal to ‘treat’ ‘ADHD’ with stimulant drugs. But if the disease model of behaviour can be imposed on Russians then another huge market will open up for these amazingly profitable (and harmful) drugs – all of which are manufactured by US pharmaceutical companies. [6]

Notes

1. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/01/21/obamas-remarks-on-russias-economy-dead-right-experts.html

2. http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/resources/gated-development-gates-foundation-always-force-good

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methadone

4. https://www.rosemontpharma.com/product-listing/m

5. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/russians-consider-marrying-giving-birth-and-education-most-important-things/528835.html

6. https://newobs.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/part31.pdf

 

Tell me lies about Libya

The State Department spokesmen said something like this:

“There as been a certain amount of instability in Libya after the departure of Gaddafi”. – This is a slight paraphrase but ‘certain amount of instability’ and ‘departure of Gaddafi’ are exact quotes – see the report on RT.

A ‘certain amount of instability’ is one way of describing the chaos once prosperous Libya has descended into since the 2011 NATO ‘ouster’ of Gaddafi (who was in fact brutally murdered after being captured). There is no functioning central government. The country is riven by rival militias. Torture of prisoners held by various armed groups is rife. ISIS has popped up in one of the major cities – Sirte. This post we did around this time last year provides some links to various sources which give a feel for the chaos.

As for ‘departure of Gaddafi’. This is the same line we had with the overthrow of President Yanokovich in Ukraine. He is supposed to have just ‘departed’ too. – Most people would ‘depart’ when faced with an extremely violent thousands-strong mob screaming blue murder at you and attacking policement with firebombs just yards from your office. The US of course fed that mob. The cookies of US State Department official Victoria Nuland [1] can be understood as a metaphor for the billions spent in subverting the country. [2] Same with Gadaffi. He ‘departed’ after being bombed by NATO and butchered on the battlefield. According to this report (in the Telegraph) US and French forces directly contributed to this murder with the SAS acting in an advisory role. (The Telegraph writer calls Gadaffi a ‘despot’; was he doing that before the revolution when the UK was trying to sell arms to him? But that is another question). So much for ‘departure’. The bombing of Libya was based on a distortion of UN resolution 1970; the resolution permitted military action to protect civilians. But this was twisted with a piece of legal sophistry to say that since Gaddafi was a risk to civilians the resolution permitted an operation to overthrow his regime. (Strange that the UK and the EU were so willing to sell quite so many weapons to someone whom they later described as being such a threat to civilians). [3] At any event where would the US State Department and their lackeys in the British government be without the passive voice? They organise coups and bomb the blazes out of people then say ‘oh, he departed’. It is of course surreal.

Who swallows these lies? One answer is 90% of the Western media 90% of the time. Does the population? It is difficult to know.

Notes

1. http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2014/february/05/victoria-nuland-the-bride-at-every-wedding.aspx

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2fYcHLouXY, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Endowment_for_Democracy

3. http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/mar/01/eu-arms-exports-libya

The manufactured ‘child sex’ panic

A well-known footballer (aged 28) is currently on trial for offences against a young person. He is being tried for ‘grooming’, which he admits, and sexual activity with a child. He admits one count under the latter heading and denies two other counts.

The story is relatively straightforward. (See here and here for press accounts). He met with a young fan – a 15 year old girl. He took her into his car. They kissed. There was a fumble. No penetrative sex. Apparently no coercion.

The case can be understood in the context of the national hysteria around ‘child sex’. And the unhealthy level of interest in the subject. The Telegraph, for example, sees fit to describe the trial as a ‘child sex’ trial; though no actual sex took place. Neither the Guardian nor the Telegraph (linked above) in their reports raise any question at all about the wisdom of taking someone to trial for these very minor offences. One of the friends of the ‘victim’ told the court that she thought that the footballer was ‘a bit of a paedophile’. This is lapped up by the press and widely reported. Naturally, the police went through the footballer’s computer and phone. They found he’d searched articles on the Internet about the age of consent. On his phone they found a photo of his ‘groin area’. – What young man these days doesn’t have a photo of his ‘groin area’ on his phone? Why is searching for information about the age of consent even relevant? He had a fumble with a 15 year old girl. No coercion. A misdemeanor. Maybe a good case for a caution. But somehow the parties pressing the case – the authorities and the media – have totally lost their sense of perspective.

Why have the authorities, and the media, lost their sense of perspective on this? One answer is that it is about PR. The authorities until recently turned a blind eye to child sexual abuse; including far more serious cases than this. Now they don’t miss any opportunity to create a public perception that they are on the case. However; if they meant it, if there really had been a change of heart, their actions would be proportionate and measured. That they aren’t indicates that there has been no change of heart. Just an attempt to manage public perceptions. Indeed the hysteria in this area appears to be being deliberately cultivated and manufactured. (Adam Johnston is just a hapless pawn in a wider effort). Why are the authorities manufacturing a national hysteria about ‘child sex’? What does this get them? Maybe it is not just a PR benefit? It also seems to be about the authorities controlling and managing a) peoples’ bodies and b) all relations between young people and older people. By manufacturing (with the help of the media) this unhealthy and universal climate of interest in the subject of ‘child sex’ they create for themselves a continual reason to police what people do with their bodies and relations between people in general. In essence this is about the police re-inventing themselves as moral policemen. No longer do they focus on robbers and murderers. Now they are a moral police force; concerned with human relations and what people do with their bodies.

The police are re-inventing themselves as controllers of a new moral order. Public attention is thus removed one stage further from the real crimes of the century. The destructive effects of an economic system where power is in the hands of invisible financiers and the capital markets. This system leads to foreign wars – as new markets are conquered – and a disturbing lack of social solidarity at home as all social policies are geared around maximizing labour productivity. It is a feature of the age that attention is diverted away from questioning the perils of the economic order which underpins modern society and onto the question of individual acts of ‘child sex’, acts which can be framed in terms of an individual and in terms of ‘morality’. (And this ‘moral’ hysteria helps sell newspapers of course).

What do you do when your proxies get out of control?

In Syria (as elsewhere) the US has been trying to achieve a political goal by the use of proxy militias. It arms these players (countries or groups). It provides diplomatic cover for them. In the 80s they would have been presented as local ‘freedom fighters’. Now perhaps as fighters for ‘democracy’. The message is always about how these are local forces who are fighting a tyrant on behalf of their people. However; without US diplomatic and military support these proxies would not be able to fight. In Syria the US claims to be involved in the peace process but this is not credible. If the US had been interested in peace they could have promoted a national dialog from the start instead of fomenting a civil war by arming various factions. [1]

The US has tried to achieve its plan for Syria (which has nothing to do with what the Syrian people might want) by the use of proxies. However; the US is having trouble managing its proxies.

Turkey has been presented as a key ally in the ‘fight against terror’. Even when it shot down a Russian jet Turkey received full US support. But now matters are getting out of hand. Turkey has been shelling the PYD – Kurdish forces – in Syria [2]. These forces have recently been armed by the US allegedly to fight ISIS. [3] The US has had to publicly ask its NATO ally to stop. [2]

Another problem is some of the groups supported by another US ally, Saudi Arabia. In Syria, Saudi Arabia supports a right-wing Islamist group Jaysh al-Islam. [4] The one-time leader of this group (he was killed in an airstrike in December 2015) initially made speeches of a virulently anti-Shia nature – calling for their expulsion from Damascus – i.e. he made calls for religious and ethnic cleansing. Later he toned down this rhetoric. The mostly likely explanation for this change is that he was advised to do so by his Saudi backers (and behind them his US backers). [5] This group is now part of the official opposition negotiating team backed by Saudi Arabia.

The problem for the US is that it is trying – once again – to gerrymander ‘democracy’ and acceptance of US dominated global capitalism onto a country where it just isn’t going to fit. They naively support various groups who no doubt tell their CIA handlers ‘Oh yes; we love democracy and freedom’, because they figure that that is what they have to say to get arms. Then once they get some strength they go off on their own; either they follow a sectarian ideology or they become simply totally corrupt or they run death squads or other unpalatable human rights practices. Â Or, like Turkey, they simply start pursuing their own regional agenda.

Countless thousands of totally innocent people have died, been maimed and/or have been rendered homeless by these naive strategies in Iraq, in Libya and in Syria. President Obama coolly brushes this fact away by explaining that the changes they are trying to bring about are a ‘generational challenge’. [6]

On Syria it remains to be seen if the US (with Russia’s help) can even at this late stage rein in what they have started, or if, perhaps, it is not already too late.

Notes

1. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/19/us-weapons-to-syria-repeats-historical-mistake

2. https://www.rt.com/news/332410-us-urges-turkey-shelling/

3. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-ammunition-exclusive-idUSKCN0T412O20151115

4. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/07/syria-crisis-saudi-arabia-spend-millions-new-rebel-force

5. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/25/zahran-alloush-leader-syria-rebel-group-killed-airstrike

6. http://www.vox.com/a/barack-obama-interview-vox-conversation/obama-foreign-policy-transcript