On Vilnius, and the NATO blame game

18 Jul

This may surprise some but on many matters I find corporate media reliable. I trust The BBC’s weather forecasts, the Guardian’s round ups of Saturday’s soccer results. And if the Mail says Netflix is doing reruns of The Thick Of It, well, that’s good enough for me.

Even on matters of greater import – abortion, say, or systemic racism in the criminal justice system – I find Guardian and Telegraph 1 coverage sober, insightful even. Occasionally such media, right wing no less than liberal, will embarrass power – or at least the holders of high office, which is not quite the same thing. They tell the truth on many important matters, often with wit and panache, occasionally with daring. Why? Because they must compete for market share, and a scoop is a scoop no matter what – within limits well understood on the corridors of editorial power – the political fall-out.

Julian Assange, upheld by Caitlin Johnstone as the greatest journalist of all time – and certainly the greatest martyr of ours – said this:

What drives a paper like the Guardian or New York Times is not their inner moral values. It is simply that they have a market. In the UK, there is a market called ‘educated liberals’. Educated liberals want to buy a newspaper like the Guardian and therefore an institution arises to fulfil that market.

At a more subliminal level such media garner credibility as fearless watchdogs for truth because they do on occasion embarrass high office; do on occasion – witness The Guardian’s forensic reporting, earlier this year, on the British royal family’s murky finances – call out entrenched privilege. But dig a little deeper. This bank of credibility enables them to lie massively – whether by commission or omission is morally inconsequential – on matters non negotiable to power.

None more so than when cheerleading wars of profit (and/or planetary dominance) which they mis-sell as wars of liberation and humanitarian intervention

As the US Empire – silence on whose very existence is among the greatest of our media’s many lies of omission – wages proxy war on Russia’s border …

… no matter is of more pivotal importance to power. This is why corporate media speak with one voice on the fundamentals of Ukraine. And while the sorely deceived, whose name is Legion, take such unanimity to reflect truth incontestable, in reality what it reflects is how high the stakes are for those who, beneath a chimera of democracy, rule over us.

All corporate media lied, long before it began, about what caused this war. Now they lie about its progress. While they have for nineteen solid months assured us of Russia’s inevitable defeat, we are now drip-fed snippets to prepare us for a different reality. As I write this, my masthead sports an (abridged) quote by Garland Nixon:

NATO is a money-laundering scheme, and a cynical US instrument to project power and manage its European vassals, which it now openly exploits. NATO was never a ‘defense’ organisation but a weapon against Russia. But in its hubris the West badly miscalculated. It has underestimated Russia’s military and industrial capability, and even the kind of war it could face against a true peer adversary fighting a genuinely existential war.

Now various sources, none of them fatally compromised in the way all sections of corporate media are compromised, speak of the consequences of that stupendous miscalculation. I’m spoilt for choice here but, off the top of my head, recommend the following:

Those last three, two of them videos, exemplify the gamekeeper turned poacher phenomenon. There’s a lot of it about. Scott Ritter was the UN Weapons Inspector whose refusal to endorse Washington’s WMDs lie in Iraq led to his excommunication from the Church of Dutiful Servants of Empire. Douglas MacGregor is the former US Army Colonel whose military and geostrategic insights on Ukraine and much besides are not to be missed. Alastair Crook is a former career diplomat, his focus here the hubris of supposing wars are won in the arena of narrative, where the West’s spin machines and deployment of soft power rule invincible. 2

I could give many additional sources, including other gamekeepers turned poacher like former CIA officer, Philip Giraldi. Instead I’ll end with an excellent piece by my old friend Bryan Gocke. Covering NATO’s Vilnius summit yesterday on his occasionally political Onthebyrynk website, Bryan opens with a sardonic sub-header:

Ukraine is to blame

They say a picture paints a thousand words – and doesn’t this just broadcast Volodymyr Zelenski’s isolation at the NATO summit  – and not just because he misread the dress code? 

Predictably, NATO leaders chose not to publicly name the unfolding military disaster in Ukraine, but that didn’t stop them apportioning blame for it and punishing accordingly. The message to Ukraine was clear:

  • There is no planned route for the country to attain NATO membership until it beats Russia (or at the very least pushes it backwards across eastern Ukraine – back to the negotiating table on The West’s terms).
  • There will be no further supplies of military hardware beyond that which has already been agreed. Apparently Ukraine has already received sufficient support to do the job. The inference is that the Ukrainian military has squandered and mis managed the opportunity to strike decisively against Russian forces. 
  • Ukraine will lose all support from NATO if it attempts to seek terms from Russia directly (or, shock horror, through the auspices of global enemy no.1 China). It must keep fighting, despite the hopelessness of the situation and the truly appalling level of casualties.
  • NATO will not commit its own personnel to the conflict. Ukraine is alone in this nightmare – although security guarantees will be given at some point in the future by as yet un-named countries. 

I suspect the photo was taken at the beginning of the conference, before all this became clear. There is more of a hint of embarrassment in the way in which the other participants are engaging with each other and leaving him on his own – the unwanted guest at the party.

By all accounts once the situation did become clear Zelensky was furious and completely unable to hide his anger. Justifiably so.

Ukraine is now in the worst position it has been since 2014, when the conflict kicked off through the Maidan coup. An invitation to join NATO was backed by the promise of a clear route plan to membership – an offer that would inevitably provoke a strong response from Russia. Moreover, the situation in the country is much, much, worse than in March 2022 when an outline peace deal with Russia had been agreed and signed, that would have resulted in …

Read the full piece here …

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  1. Readers outside the UK may substitute their own titles: what I say here applies equally to all Western corporate media.
  2. I have written elsewhere on the way the hyper-financialised West, its FIRE sector led economies mesmerised by GDP statistics utterly divorced from the real economy, badly underestimated Russia’s true economic stature. Here Alastair Crook shows how its mastery of spin, narrative control and the dark arts of opinion manufacture led the West to a parallel miscalculation:

    How do you win an unwinnable war? Well, the élite answer has been through narrative. By insisting against reality that Ukraine is winning, and Russia is ‘cracking’. But such hubris eventually is busted by facts on the ground. Even the western ruling classes can see their demand for a successful Ukrainian offensive has flopped. At the end, military facts are more powerful than political waffle: One side is destroyed, its many dead become the tragic ‘agency’ to upending dogma.

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