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Saturday, March 01, 2014

Propaganda overload!

We are being inundated with "new Cold War" propaganda right now. Inundated. We're drowning in the stuff. I should hold a contest to allow readers to send in their own picks for the most over-the-top anti-Russian diatribe.

Right now, I would say that the most outlandish example is this piece in -- wait for it! -- the New Republic.

Yep. The ostensibly liberal rag that led the charge against Bill Clinton (back in the days when it earned the title "The Newly Republican") is now serving up the kind of shit that hasn't been shat since the first Reagan administration. Apply clothespin to nose and take note...
Russia, or, more accurately, Putin, sees the world according to his own logic, and the logic goes like this: it is better to be feared than loved, it is better to be overly strong than to risk appearing weak, and Russia was, is, and will be an empire with an eternal appetite for expansion.
No. That's America you're talking about.

That "better to be feared than love" formulation? It became a staple of right-wing commentary during the 70s and figured into Reaganite speechifying (albeit in a softened form, with the word "respected" standing in for "feared") throughout the 1980s. We heard that sentiment incessantly in the aftermath of 9/11, especially from the kind of people who felt comfortable using terms like "Freedom fries." You still encounter that "no love" formulation a great deal if you spend much time on the right side of the blogosphere.

Does anyone doubt that 95% of the people in the Pentagon -- and 100% of the attendees at any given Republican National Convention -- would agree with the statement that "It is better for the US to be feared than loved"?

We need a new word to describe what The New Republic is doing here -- a portmanteau word that combines "hypocrisy" and "projection."

Now let's talk about an "appetite for expansion." Oh really? Just which country has spent a truly absurd amount on armaments? Which nation recently wound down two wars it should never have become involved in -- wars that cost trillions and murdered millions?

Let's get to the meat of the matter. Just which of this globe's many nations has, over the past 60 years, routinely used covert action, bribery, propaganda, psyops, and ginned-up pseudo-revolutions to bring about regime change (or to prop up friendly despots) throughout the planet -- most recently in the Ukraine?

Any honest evaluation of the history of the CIA and the KGB will tell you that our spooks have been infinitely more aggressive and audacious than have their spooks.

Even if Putin does send a massive number of troops into Ukraine, by what right may we complain? Ukraine is a nation bordering Russia and was once part of the Soviet Union. It has many ethnic Russians. It's a nation in which a democratically-elected government was toppled by indigenous fascists and "protestors" who received a CIA payoff.

We had far less right to be in Vietnam or Iraq than Putin's forces have to be in Ukraine.

How dare any American president give lectures on the concept of sovereignty? Look at the list of countries in which we've interfered: Iran, Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile, Argentina, the Philippines, Afghanstan -- well, one could go on for quite a while. The list of nations we have left alone is, in fact, far shorter. William Blum's Killing Hope tells the story.

Moreover, we did not noticeably complain when Boris Yeltsin -- a drunken American toady with single-digit approval ratings -- bolstered his popularity by launching a brutal war in Chechnya. In fact, Bill Clinton compared Yeltsin to -- get this! -- Abraham Lincoln.

So who is the Russia "expert" who contributed such an absurd agit-prop piece to the Newly Republican? Her name is Julia Ioffe.

I think we should keep an eye on her.

The neo-conservatives who write for right-wing publications are important, yes, but their influence is limited. When you see a byline like "Ledeen" or "Podhoretz", you know what to expect. For the most part, their influence extends only to their ideological confreres.

More pernicious, perhaps, are the neocons who sneak their wares into mainstream, moderate or liberal venues. (Or, one may argue, into a Democratic presidency.)

A while back, I told you about a journalist recruited by the CIA who, during the Carter era, functioned as a Moscow correspondent for a major publication. The Soviets had this guy pegged from the get-go, but the American public had no idea that he was spooked up.

Time to name names, and damn the consequences.

The writer was Christopher Wren, and his publication was The New York Times. I heard about Wren's CIA recruitment from an old chum of his.

Is Julia Ioffe of a similar nature? I don't know. I do know that one of the publications she writes for is the Washington Post.

(The Soviet allegation against Wren is mentioned in Carl Bernstein's classic expose on CIA infiltration of our media, for which one named source is none other than David Atlee Phillips. Although Bernstein dismisses the charge against Wren, my own information is that the Soviets had that one right. Bernstein's still-relevant piece is mandatory reading, or re-reading, if you want to understand the propaganda barrage we are undergoing right now.)
Interesting timing for all this. With the Olympics, the anti-Russian propaganda machine was able to get up and rolling before Ukraine was even in the headlines. And now they can just dust off the old anti-Russian playbooks.

The United States has been on a war based economy ever since Pearl Harbor. We are addicted to war. I share your disillusionment Joseph. It's like being the parent of a meth addict. You can try and try to change the situation but eventually you have to cut loose, protect yourself as best you can, and be there to help if it ever again becomes a possibility. But it's quite sorrowful to accept that most likely all is lost.
Saddam Hussein is dead, Osama Bin Laden is dead. The War On Terror just isn't cutting it anymore. Gotta have a Boogeyman. Gotta have a Boogeyman. Vladmir Putin fits the bill nicely.
During the Olympics in Russia, Sixty Minutes ran two surprisingly hostile pieces about Russia. I did not understand the timing, but now I do.

When I recall the pieces Sixty Minutes has done that are simultaneously inspirational chronicling how absolutely poverty stricken countries create youth orchestras by creating musical instruments out of garbage, I see the other side as well. How can we as americans ever feel we have it bad after watching those inspirational pieces.

Is Sixty Minutes part of the Government propaganda clique?
The Olympics is a major publicity opportunity for the host country which usually goes out of its way to avoid any negative perceptions surrounding the event. Not only did the Russian Winter Olympics provide the anti-Russian rhetoric a head start, it also helped delay the Russian response to the U.S. sponsored Ukraine coup.

These things don't just happen by accident.
For more of calling people out on their shit:

Of course, Friedman is low hanging fruit.

by Ray McGovern

I have nothing to add
Billmon is writing again. Two posts about Ukraine on Storify.

(and humorous is not the opposite of serious)
Though I've learned not to expect much from TPM anymore, I read the two articles that Josh Marshall linked to as being particularly insightful. The New Yorker article by David Remnick provided insights into how messed up the Ukrainian government was under Yanukovych, but showed a blatant anti-Russian slant and stooped to give bogus keyboard-psychological profiling of Putin to explain his motives.

The New York Times article by Charles King gave itself away with the image of a boot print as its lead. There was an appearance of impartiality but this sentence tells all you need to know; "... the immediate task of diplomacy is to rescue Ukraine from the consequences of its accidental revolution."

This revolution wasn't "accidental." Any analysis that doesn't mention Victoria Nuland is bogus. With her "Fuck the European Union" phone conversation with the US ambassador in Kiev, and her boasting that the U.S. spent five billion dollars to destabilize Ukraine and foment this coup, it is plain as day what went down in Kiev. Propaganda is truly the word to describe what the U.S. media is promoting.
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