In the fog of war – and/or propaganda blitz – truth is notoriously hard to come by. Never more so than when, as is almost always the case, those countries and leaders vilified by our squeaky clean politicians …
… and our reassuringly independent media …:
… happen also to be nations and leaders obstructing the big rentier investors whose interests dictate, behind a chimera of democracy, 1 ‘our’ foreign policy.
Funny handshakes, old school tie and a code of omerta? I don’t rule out such things but nor do I rely on them. As I said a week ago, in a footnote to The propaganda blitz on Bucha:
I could write screeds on ideology, and how it obviates the need – without excluding the possibility – of conspiracy and mendacity. Instead, I’ll note simply that journalists who know what’s good for them please editors, and editors who know what’s good for them please proprietors. Proprietors not only crave honours and seats at the high table. They also need advertisers and – Guardian admirers take note – deep pocketed sponsors like Gates and Soros. Such men need do nothing so vulgar as spell out their expectations re editorial content. It suffices that they can withdraw their love at any time. Add to these truths the fact our species excels at believing what it suits us to believe, and that media distortion comes more from lies of omission than commission – even those Bucha style blitzes can be explained by shared credulity, and the reality of all media drawing on the same few tainted sources whose extreme prejudice they never quite get round to alerting their audiences to – and we have the long and short of why our media cannot be trusted, despite the subjective sincerity of many if not most journalists.
Before going any further, I want to pose what salesfolk call a trial close. These take the form of if-then propositions: “if I can satisfy your points of concern, will you then buy my company’s product?”
My trial close goes like this:
if, by conscious mendacity or career-minded failure to exercise scepticism and due diligence, journalists produce copy which serves directly or indirectly to deceive us on the motives of those who would take us to war and/or risk nuclear Armageddon, then are they not accessories to what the Nuremberg judges called the supreme crime of waging aggressive war?
A touch ungainly, I grant you, but that’s often the price of precision. That said, former Guardian columnist Jonathan Cook put things more elegantly in 2016, his context a different but equally ferocious propaganda blitz …
George Monbiot repeatedly denies that he wishes to see a military attack on Syria. But if he weakly accepts whatever narratives are crafted by those who do – and refuses to subject them to meaningful scrutiny – he is decisively helping to promote such an attack.
Jonathan’s framing of the point being no less generalisable than mine, let’s turn to those missile strikes on Poland. Caitlin Johnstone today:
Journalistic Responsibility Vanishes when Reporting on US-Targeted Nations
Two false news reports have gone viral in recent hours due to sloppy sourcing and journalistic malpractice. As usual they both featured bogus claims about US-targeted nations, in this case Russia and Iran.
An article in Responsible Statecraft titled “How a lightly-sourced AP story almost set off World War III” details how the propaganda multiplier news agency published a one-source, one-sentence report claiming that Russia had launched a deadly missile strike at NATO member Poland, despite evidence having already come to light by that point that the missile had probably come from Ukraine. This set off calls for the implementation of a NATO Article 5 response, meaning hot warfare between NATO and Russia in retaliation for a Russian attack on one of the alliance members.
Mainstream news reports circulated the narrative that Poland had been struck by a “Russian-made” missile, which is at best a highly misleading framing of the fact that the inadvertent strike came from a Soviet-era surface-to-air missile system still used by Ukraine, a former Soviet state. Headlines from the largest and most influential US news outlets like The New York Times, CNN and NBC all repeated the misleading “Russian-made” framing, as did AP’s own correction to its false report that Poland was struck by Russia …
Read Caitlin’s full article here. I’ll pass over her second fake news example, the Iran “death sentences” – though a forthcoming post will address the issue of capital punishment in one of the world’s heaviest practitioners.
As for the example I will address here, Caitlin may for once be a shade wide of the mark. All the signs now are that US Empire managers, far from using those missile strikes to whip up further Russophobe rage, are keen to kill the story asapissimo.
Her wider point, flagged in her title, stands. Westerners may have quaffed the Kool-Aid on the most ludicrous narrative in decades (in the face of stiff competition from Assad “using poison gas” the week of a UN inspection visit) which has Putin blowing up Nordstream to punish the West. (Hint for the intellectually challenged: the fool could have done that by turning the taps off.) But didn’t the husband of that high priestess of Russophobia, Anne Applebaum, give the game away with exquisite subtlety in his early show of gratitude to the real perp?
Sarcasm over. Here’s the calmly reliable Gilbert Doctorow, an American Russian speaker who blogs extensively on the war, writing yesterday on the strikes, the usefulness of the cui bono question, and why in this case Uncle Sam may have seen virtue in restraint.
Credit once again to steel city commenter Dave O’Hansell.
November 16, 2022
Missile strike on Poland: will this lead to invocation of Article 5 as President Zelensky hopes?
Yesterday’s incident of missile strikes on the Polish side of the border with Ukraine which killed two has been denounced by the Russians as a ‘provocation.’ The logic of such an incident would be for Poland and its NATO allies to denounce Russia as the culprit, as the violator of the sanctity of NATO territory, and to threaten Russia with the invocation of Article Five of the Alliance, a declaration of war in all but name. Indeed, that is precisely what we heard from President Zelensky in his first statements about the incident, and he was seconded by leaders of the war-mongering jackal states in the Baltics.
In fact, so far the Polish reaction appears to be restrained. Their president, Duda, has called upon his compatriots to remain calm while an investigation is underway. Polish authorities would say only that fragments of the missiles recovered at the site show that they were “Russian made,” which by itself means very little since both sides to the conflict use “Russian made” military hardware. Meanwhile, in far off Bali, Joe Biden responded to journalists’ queries, saying that examination of the trajectory of the missiles which struck farmland on the Polish side of the border with Ukraine made it ‘unlikely’ that they were launched from Russia. Of course, journalists did not ask the necessary follow-up question: so what does this known trajectory tell us about where in fact these missiles were fired from? And who is likely then to have fired them?
This morning’s Financial Times article on the subject adds speculation that possibly the missiles were part of the Ukrainian air defense system and were fired to bring down Russian cruise missiles attacking their energy infrastructure but “went astray.” In this same reporting, they do not bother to ask whether the fragments truly indicate ‘air defense’ projectiles or ground to ground missiles, which presumably would be manifestly evident from the large fragments seen in photographs from the site.
All of this prevarication and hesitancy on the part of the U.S. and Polish authorities in pointing fingers at the culprit for the attack in Poland is in direct contradiction with the longstanding pattern of U.S. and Western behavior in what we know were false flag incidents directed from Washington or London. In such cases, accusations against the Russia over the downing of Flight MH17, or against the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria over alleged chemical attacks on his own civilian population followed within minutes of the given incidents.
So I ask again, what happened yesterday in Poland and who is to blame? To find a plausible answer, I suggest applying the time proven Roman guiding principle of investigation and ask cui bono, whose interests are served by what has happened? This is a simple, reasonable approach which regrettably has gone out of style in our days of Information Wars.
Cui bono points to the Kiev regime as responsible for the missile attacks on Poland, for the sake of finally bringing NATO openly into the fight on their side against Russia. Poland is not yet ready for war against Russia, and will be ready only many months from now when it receives major arms deliveries from the United States. The USA does not want an unplanned escalation from proxy war to war of the principals that could easily lead to a Russian nuclear attack on the homeland. It is only Mr. Zelensky’s regime that can hope for total chaos in order to survive the destruction of his country’s core infrastructure that is now well on the way, at last.
Of course, in Washington, in Brussels these considerations must be well understood by key personnel. The coming consultations over activating Article 4 of the Alliance treaty, officially recognizing a threat to their territorial integrity, revolve around formulating a determination of responsibility for the incident that avoids blaming the present darling of our solicitude, Ukraine, for attacking a NATO country.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022
Postscript: 16 November afternoon. The latest statements from Poland and the U.S. in the past hour or so are saying the missiles which landed in Poland were Ukrainian air defense missiles, not downed Russian cruise missiles. Since the US has recorded the trajectory of the missiles by one of its spy planes on location near the border, they know from where the missiles were launched and whether air defense units were there. They also have the missile fragments from the crash site and can identify exactly what type they were if they so wish. For their part, the Poles are indicating that they will not activate Article 4 provisions of the Alliance after all. We may assume that knowing what they do, they would prefer to remove this whole incident from public discussion as quickly as possible. The Russians say their attack on infrastructure came nowhere near the Ukrainian border with Poland, and that is completely believable: they want to avoid precisely what happened yesterday. So what is the chief lesson of this event: that the Americans understand it was a provocation by the Zelensky regime and they were quick to snuff it out because they absolutely want to avoid any possibility of the conflict going out of their control and escalating to nuclear war.
See also today’s WSWS piece on the matter.
I will add only this. Wanting to avoid thermonuclear war does not preclude recklessly provoking a nuclear adversary in ways that up the likelihood of getting precisely that, Dr Strangelove style.
Sleep easy, folks. We couldn’t be in calmer or more responsible hands.
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- Though there are other ways of showing western democracy to be largely fake, I like the crispness of this syllogism. Democracy implies consent … consent is meaningless if not informed … informed consent implies truly independent media … media independence precludes business models reliant on advertisers and/or sponsors, or on state funding subject to the good will of politicians themselves fearful of or in bed with Citizen Kane.