You Might also like
By Sean — 10 years ago
Noam Chomsky has given his take on the whole South Ossetia-Russia-Georgia-US imbroglio. I haven’t read Chomsky in years. He rarely says anything he hadn’t already said 20 years ago; and his penchant toward focusing on American hypocrisy is simply stating the obvious. He has a tendency to overdetermine American power thereby creating a monolithic, well oiled imperial machine controlled and manipulated by a cabal of American capitalists. Unfortunately things aren’t that simple and after a few reads, that line gets old. Fast.
Nevertheless, many listen to Chomsky and sometimes, yes, sometimes he has some interesting observations. Since Russia has moved back onto his analytical radar, I provide a few excerpts from his “Towards a Second Cold War?” to get readers’ thoughts.
After opening with the usual diatribe against American hypocrisy and cynicism, Chomsky writes,
The Russian propaganda system made the mistake of presenting evidence, which was easily refuted. Its Western counterparts, more wisely, keep to authoritative pronouncements, like Levy’s denunciation of the major Western media for ignoring what is “blindingly obvious to all scrupulous, good-faith observers” for whom loyalty to the state suffices to establish The Truth – which, perhaps, is even true, serious analysts might conclude.
The Russians are losing the “propaganda war,” BBC reported, as Washington and its allies have succeeded in “presenting the Russian actions as aggression and playing down the Georgian attack into South Ossetia on August 7, which triggered the Russian operation,” though “the evidence from South Ossetia about that attack indicates that it was extensive and damaging.” Russia has “not yet learned how to play the media game,” the BBC observes. That is natural. Propaganda has typically become more sophisticated as countries become more free and the state loses the ability to control the population by force. (Emphasis mine)
I think his last statement is key here. My previous posting of how CNN edited Putin’s interview was to imply exactlty this. American media is far more sophisticated in crafting a message while Russia’s, as show by Vesti‘s crude parlor tricks, remains hopelessly amateur. I happen to think CNN‘s editing of Putin’s interview is worse on an ideological level because it falls within acceptable parameters. Crass manipulation of the message is mystified by the logic of harmless, and more important, practical editing. To my knowledge the full interview with Putin, as relayed by the transcript, was never aired on CNN in the States. Even if it was, the main clips of Putin accusing the US of orchestrating the war were repeated endlessly on pretty much every American news outlet, making the content of whole interview superfluous. Plus, as Yasha Levine notes in his article, CNN viewers on both sides of the pond got different versions. Levine writes,
Despite the “unprecedented access” hook, for its U.S. feed, CNN reduced the 30-minute interview into a series of sound bites that seized and ridiculed Putin’s crackpot theory that the Republican party started the war to boost McCain’s ratings. CNN’s international audience, enjoying the news from hotel rooms all round the world, got to see a little more of the footage. But most of it had to do with Russia’s ridiculous “non-political” decision to ban some American poultry importers from doing business with Russia because of their poor quality control standards. CNN’s intentions were clear: Putin must come off looking like a fool. And it seemed Putin gave them the perfect material.
But back to Noam. One of the things I appreciate about his article is that he puts the Clinton Doctrine (“Washington has the right to use military force to defend vital interests such as “ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources”) at center stage rather than its heir, the Bush Doctrine of preemptive strike. But as Chomsky notes, even the Clinton Doctrine was hardly new.
Clinton was breaking no new ground, of course. His doctrine derives from standard principles formulated by high-level planners during World War II, which offered the prospect of global dominance. In the postwar world, they determined, the US should aim “to hold unquestioned power” while ensuring the “limitation of any exercise of sovereignty” by states that might interfere with its global designs. To secure these ends, “the foremost requirement [is] the rapid fulfillment of a program of complete rearmament,” a core element of “an integrated policy to achieve military and economic supremacy for the United States.” The plans laid during the war were implemented in various ways in the years that followed.
When you throw in America’s self-imposed, messianic mission to spread “freedom” (according to its own definition, by the way) that is quite a mix imperial power politics and ideological fervor. The fact that not just Sara Palin but Barak Obama, John McCain and almost every other politician weds America’s national interests with freedom (at home and abroad) speaks volumes to how it well it resonates with the American public. The imperial rhetoric of both parties was on open display at their conventions. The only difference I heard between them was tone.
Finally, even Chomsky, the old lefty Cold Warrior that he is, doubts a new Cold War is in the making. He writes,
Nonetheless, a new cold war seems unlikely. To evaluate the prospect, we should begin with clarity about the old cold war. Fevered rhetoric aside, in practice the cold war was a tacit compact in which each of the contestants was largely free to resort to violence and subversion to control its own domains: for Russia, its Eastern neighbors; for the global superpower, most of the world. Human society need not endure – and might not survive – a resurrection of anything like that.
I think the abscence of current agreement between theives is important to remember. It sure makes me think those analysts who are conjuring 19th century metaphors to describe the current world order might be on to something. Perhaps it time to review, revive and revise Lenin’s and Rosa Luxembourg’s thoeries of imperialist rivalry as inherent to globalist capitalism.Post Views: 826
By Sean — 10 years ago
Russian Communists don’t like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, reports the Associated Press. But the communists in question are not the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), as the report implies. There are several communist parties in Russia and the one that has began a campaign against Indy is a small 500 member sect called Communists of the St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region (KPLO).
According to their website, KPLO have no official affiliation with the KPRF. Rather they, “are communists, like the KPRF, only better: more modern, younger, lively, and creative.” They forgot to add freakier. Just check out the accompanying photo. I’ve seen a lot of things but never communist vestments. And what’s up with that Young Pioneer? He looks like should adorn someone’s lawn.
And what has the good Dr. Jones done to get the KPLO all hot and bothered? As the Ideological Committee of the TsK KPLO explains in a letter to the film’s stars Harrison Ford and Kate Blanchet:
Your role in the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skill offends all the Soviet and Russia people, all who remember the difficult 1950s, when our country finished the reconstruction after the Great [Patriotic]War, and didn’t send to the United States merciless terrorists.
A bunch of ranting and attempts at historical corrections follow. The film’s plot centers around Indy battling Soviet agents trying to get their hands on some skull with secret powers that, I assume, will aid them in world domination. Maybe someone should let the KPLO know that it’s just a movie, and probably not a very good one in the first place. Also, maybe someone at AP should do their homework and realize that in Russia, not all Communist parties are the same.Post Views: 479
By Sean — 2 years ago
It’s hard not to notice the plethora of articles once again warning about Russia invading the Baltics. The prospect has come up on a number of occasions over the last two years, and I have to say, I can’t help but have increasing sympathy for RT’s skepticism that the new volley just happens to coincide with the Pentagon budgetary requests. I really hate it when I nod in approval to RT articles. I really do. But that is what happened. So Russia declares the US as a threat, and the US names Russia as a threat. Wonderful. And on and on it goes as military contractors in both countries smile at the prospect of Cold War Part Deux.
But that’s not all.
Leave it to the Atlantic Council to recycle well-worn rhetoric about how talking to the Russians is “counterproductive” and how olive branches “don’t work.” So in terms of solutions we get the ever so wise, “only tightening the noose will” and hackneyed reiterations about the need to send weapons to Ukraine. Yes, because in addition to provoking further conflict is to bet on the fact that “by 2017, [Russia] will go bust, say experts.” Yes, experts like Alexander Motyl who said “Goodbye to Putin” in Foreign Affairs in February 2015 only to say pretty much the same thing again in January 2016? No thank you. David Marples deserves a lot of credit for actually engaging Motyl’s arguments. My instinct is to just roll my eyes so far back that I can see my medulla oblongata.
It’s obvious some experts aren’t heeding Michael Kofman’s “Seven Deadly Sins of Russia Analysis.” I mean, c’mon people, assuming Russia is doomed is deadly sin number frickin’ one! But we didn’t need Kofman to remind us (though it’s nice that he did) to be wary of such “analysis” since the Russia’s imminent collapse trope has been around since the mid-19th century.
But forget about all that. The main problem with all this blustering by all the politicians, analysts, pundits, military, and think tankers is not so much they are wrong, but that they are ultimately playing with other people’s lives. After all it won’t be them or their children who fight their wars. It will be somebody else and somebody else’s children.
It is this context that inspired me to translate the following short article from Hromadske about a group of Ukrainian soldiers at the front in the Donbas. It’s not a great article. Nor is it penetrating information. It’s just a small story about a small group of soldiers trying to make the most out of a bad situation. And like with most armies, while the military, the government, and politicians hold these people up as heroes for the home front, they all force these heroes to unnecessarily live like animals at the battlefront. Well, this group of guys got sick of it.
In Nikolaev, soldiers sleep practically in the snow and feed themselves with their own money. Many are sick because they haven’t bathed and have begun to contract scabies.
On February 8, soldiers from the 53rd Mechanized Brigade set out marching from the Shirokii Lan firing range in Nikolaev. Forty-six soldiers fed up with the terrible living conditions decided to go to the military prosecutor to complain about their commanders.
The 53rd Brigade has already been at the Skirokii firing range located 30 kilometers from Nikolaev for four days. But the catastrophic situation with food, sleeping accommodations, and hygiene has been around for a long time—since the soldiers withdrew from the ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) zone to the range in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
In Nikolaev, the soldiers practically sleep on the snow and feed themselves with their own money. Many are sick because they haven’t bathed and have begun to contract scabies. Having not gotten any answers from their command, the soldiers decided to walk to Nikolaev to complain to the military prosecutor’s office about the battalion’s commander, Aleksander Marushchak.
“We got MREs twice a day since February 1st. Today is February 8th. We fed ourselves with our own money and slept on the snow. Half of us sleep on the APC because there isn’t anywhere else to sleep . . . People come here with sciatica and kidney problems and sprawl all out in a tent. A guy is laying there with pneumonia. There are doctors here but you have to get in line, and they might take you to the hospital the next day, or maybe in a week. It is far from certain where they’ll put you if this happens,” says Vitaly Putilin, a gunner in the 8th squadron.
According to him, the last time he bathed was last year on December 25th. And then, only because he paid for a room with his own money for part of the way from Lvov to training. His comrade, the draftee Igor, says that he doesn’t remember the last time they were at the banya.
“Yesterday, we tried to go out and buy firewood on the APC, and the battalion commander told us to also refill it with our own money when we buy the wood. We still don’t have water and melt snow . . . I get that we’re at the frontline but I can’t understand why they’ve mistreated us here for over two months. People simply can’t take it anymore. Today we found an older chief of staff, and told him—can you at least tell us how much longer do we have to live like this. And he told us to keep quiet . . . We’ve got scabies because we haven’t bathed. They aim for people with white bandages, the itchy type, and so it continues. The scabies already began at Cherkassy firing range, and we haven’t washed since. Look at us.”
A third soldier, also walking to Nikolaev, explains that this is not a one-off rebellion, and has been an urgent problem for a long time.
“Every time we take our demands to command, every time they promise to deal with them, but ultimately they don’t solve anything,” says drafted soldier from the 53rd brigade.
A representative from the military command met the soldiers along the way to the city. He offered to take a few representatives from the brigade to Nikolaev to meet with the prosecutor. The soldiers refused, saying all the participants in the march want to see the prosecutor.
“We are simply asking that they need to provide the conditions as they are written in the Status of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It clearly spells out there must be a bath at least once a week, and it should be in a banya, not with one machine that heats the water in one and the cold water is in another and with two washtubs we all wash in. All of us! If you want to bathe, you have buy or bring diesel and the water from who knows where, and then you can bathe,” says the gunner Vitaly Putilin.
The result is that the regional administration sent the soldiers a bus half way from range in Nikolaev. It took the soldiers to the city for a meeting with the military prosecutor, in which all the draftees voiced their complaints.Post Views: 980