Friday, 20 February 2015

Ukraine: Propaganda instead of news

UK mainstream media is complicit in a very dangerous and worrying strategy – the escalating demonization of Russia.

Those of us who grew up during the Cold War were used to what was then the Soviet Union being portrayed as an evil empire just waiting to invade and enslave us, if not vaporise us with their arsenal of nuclear missiles.  We were told the UK had to spend billions-of-pounds on our own nuclear weapons of mass destruction in order to deter the heathen communist hordes from sweeping across the plains of western Europe.

Led by the freedom-loving United States of America, the narrative we were fed had us as the ‘good guys’, while the ‘baddies’ were the secretive and repressive dictators plotting world domination from the Kremlin in Moscow.

Then, along came Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988, with his westward-looking policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (change).  Suddenly, the Iron Curtain was being dismantled: communism crumbled as Russia embraced the capitalist economic system.  The Cold War was over, and the West had won.

The Soviet Union was broken-up and independent nations were established as a wave of democracy swept over eastern Europe.

Russians had free elections, in which the Communist Party was replaced by pro-capitalists who began privatising previously state-run industries. 

Governments and media in western countries portrayed the transformation as an entirely positive story, extolling the new warming of West-East relations and talking excitedly of the economic opportunities sure to flow from the collapse of the evil communist regime that had stood for so long against freedom and enterprise.

Actually, the government of the Soviet Union and countries of the Warsaw Pact could not have been further from communism.  The Soviet bloc was a totalitarian dictatorship, which served the interests of a ruling elite.  When the structure collapsed, many members of that elite simply ditched their Communist Party cards and reinvented themselves as free-market entrepreneurs.

Hugely successful Russian industries, such as oil and gas production, were handed-over to former Soviet officials and their friends.  People like Roman Abramovich, now owner of Chelsea Football Club, found themselves instantly transformed into billionaires.  Meanwhile, ordinary men and women in Russia discovered the concept of unemployment as their former state-provided jobs were scrapped by newly-privatised companies seeking to maximise profits.

At the head of the new capitalist Russia was Vladimir Putin, formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB), the Soviet Union’s notorious secret police.  This was not a man known for embracing freedom in any of its forms.  However, so long as he was prepared to allow western companies to exploit the Russian people through the international capitalist system, and was prepared to sell oil and gas to the west, then Putin’s faults and repression of minorities and opponents were not seen as important issues.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the new Russia was no longer seen as a threat to the West (primarily the United States).  In fact, it was now part of the global community of capitalist exploiters. 

Even as America and Britain launched illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Russia did little more than tut disapprovingly on the sidelines.  However, these wars were to have a profound effect on the views of Washington’s own ruling elite.

The number of Americans who died in their country’s ‘war’ to steal Iraq’s massive oil resources was seen to be too high by those in the corridors of power on Capitol Hill (and by ordinary Americans), so a new plan of action had to be developed.  Instead of sending-in the Marines, America would fund and supply indigenous groups in countries where Washington wanted to see regime change, with new pro-America administrations installed.

A complicit western media then reported these developments as the ‘Arab Spring’, reporting how ordinary people in countries such as Libya and Egypt had suddenly risen-up against dictators, had surprisingly found themselves in possession of massive quantities of weapons, and were determined to hold democratic elections to return power to the people.

Of course, the silly Egyptians got the democracy thing wrong at their first go: after having removed President Hosni Mubarak, effectively by way of an American-backed military coup, the people then democratically voted for a new government containing the Muslim Brotherhood.  This, though, was not the pro-America regime Washington wanted, so there had to be another ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt to overthrow the new democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi.  Egyptians got the message and in the second ‘democratic’ election they put in place the leader America wanted.

With this tactic apparently working well, the Washington military-hawks turned their attention to Europe. 

Former Soviet Union states and Warsaw Pact countries had been drawn into membership of the western capitalist club through being accepted into the European Union, where social and economic influence is exercised by three American-dominated organisations – the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 

Former communist states now EU members include: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.  Not so long ago all of these countries were satellites of the Russian-controlled Soviet Union.

However, the next step in America’s European hegemony was seen by Russia to be much more serious.  The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) – the nuclear-armed international military body that had stood for generations against the Soviet Union – began expanding eastwards, accepting as members the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia (in that order).

Russia began to see a pattern emerging and, in 2013, when the European Union offered an Association Agreement to Ukraine, the prospect of the EU - almost certainly followed by NATO – edging right up onto the Russian border became a distinct possibility.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the offered EU Association Agreement, which would have meant his country agreeing to IMF controls, including cuts to public services, wages and privatisation of publicly-owned industries and assets.  Instead, Yanukovich looked east to Ukraine’s neighbour, Russia.  Putin immediately offered cheap loans to Ukraine.

America, through its European proxy, the EU, could see the unravelling of its plans to remove Ukraine from Russia’s orbit, so all of a sudden there appeared a ‘popular uprising’ by Ukrainian people determined to overthrow their democratically-elected President.

Heavily-armed and well-funded groups of protestors appeared on the streets of Kiev, including neo-Nazi, fascist organisations.

Of course, America denied any involvement in this European version of the ‘Arab Spring’, but an official document, subsequently leaked, showed US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland admitting that the United States had ‘invested’ over $5bn in supporting anti-Russian groups in Ukraine since 1991.

Backed by the US, the armed pro-western militias forced the resignation of the democratically-elected president, Viktor Yanakovich.  Ukraine’s leader had been removed by an American-funded and resourced military coup.  Western governments and media referred to it as a ‘democratic revolution’.

The reality, however, was exactly what Russia had feared – a pro-American regime, including right-wing extremists, was now in power in a nation right on its border, in a country with a large ethnic Russian population, particularly in the east (the part of Ukraine bordering Russia).

This seizure of power and the overthrow of the democratically-elected president caused fear and panic in those areas of Ukraine where the majority of people spoke Russian and considered themselves to have much more in common with Russia than the west.

In Crimea, which had once been part of Russia, a referendum on the region’s future was held.  The outcome showed 96.77% supported the creation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea affiliated to the Russian Federation.  Western governments and media reported this as Russia having annexed Crimea.

In other areas of eastern Ukraine with large Russian-speaking populations, such as Donetsk and Lugansk, people also rejected the governing regime put in place following the American-backed military coup and decided to resist the imposition of rule from Kiev.  This continues to be described by western governments and media as pro-Russian separatists or terrorists bombing and killing other Ukrainians on the orders of Vladimir Putin.

Rather than the eastward expansion of the EU and NATO, newspapers and broadcasters in the UK report the conflict in Ukraine as Vladimir Putin seeking to re-establish a ‘Greater Russia’. 

NATO is, and always has been, a front-organisation for American imperialism, while the European Union is now simply a conduit of US capitalism.  Putin’s Russia could reach an accommodation with the EU but fears the military expansionism of NATO. 

Consider how America would react if Putin reached an economic and military agreement with either Canada or Mexico.  What would Washington do if it faced Russian troops being stationed on its border?

Of course, we know how America reacted in October 1962 when the Soviet Union located missiles on Cuba.  President John F Kennedy was prepared to initiate a nuclear war.  This was despite the fact America had already deployed its own missiles in Italy and Turkey, all of which could strike directly at Moscow.  The world was saved from a nuclear holocaust when the ‘evil’ Soviets agreed to remove their weapons from Cuba.

Russia is far from being a perfect state, but the picture of the country we are currently receiving through our newspapers and broadcasters does not reflect the reality of its position and actions.

How often do we hear on our news bulletins about the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) or the 90-page document it published in September 2000 –‘ Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources For a New Century’?

PNAC was the right-wing organisation that shaped the presidency of George W Bush and, today, the people behind it still hold massive influence in relation to US government policy.

Contained in the PNAC plan for the 21st Century is the following statement:

“[We require] a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the past century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.”

The document also states its goal is to “promote American global leadership,” and asserts that “American leadership is good both for America and the world”. 

The current demonization of Russia is part of a plan to once again portray that country as evil, while the American-led west are supposedly the ‘good guys’.  In fact, it is America and the west that has expanded its influence to the very doorstep of Russia.

UK broadcasters are complicit in the misreporting of what is happening in Ukraine and other parts of the world.  We are receiving propaganda in place of objective news.

No comments:

Post a Comment