The Guardian Media Group warmongers

10 Jun

This Saturday’s Guardian ran a Ukraine piece by Patrick Wintour. At over 3,000 words it had a broad enough canvas to set out vital context for a proxy war the US is losing and on that count desperate enough, with little need of Guardian encouragement, to play nuclear chicken. But the author did not set out context. Rather he continued his employer’s relentless demonising of RF President Putin by the tried and tested ploy of erasing all trace of the stuff …

Of course [Russia’s invasion] was provoked. Otherwise they wouldn’t refer to it all the time as unprovoked. Censorship in the United States has reached a level beyond anything in my lifetime … you are not permitted to read the Russian position. Literally. Americans are not allowed to know what the Russians are saying.

Noam Chomsky (we may substitute ‘collective West’ for USA with no loss of accuracy)

… and push an analogy as specious as it is dangerous to a readership whose grasp of history, and so of the present, is rooted in idealist and individualistic rather than material and social drivers.

For reasons I’ve gone into many times, here and here for instance, liberal no less than right-wing media – and those wholly reliant on advertising and/or wealthy sponsors no less than those owned by billionaires – are systemically incapable of radically challenging power by interrogating its central narratives. Least of all those pertaining to neoliberalism’s enemies.

George Monbiot has repeatedly denied he wants 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 Cook

Such narratives are hammered home by propaganda blitz. Think Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad and Putin. Objectivity, including access to how they and their citizens view things, gives way to hysterical depictions of such leaders as New Hitlers.  The few who raise heads above parapet and point to the fact-lite, fact-defiant and highly selective nature of those narratives are at best mocked as “appeasers” of Chamberlain 1938 ilk; at worst vilified as a fifth column.

The Nazi/WW2 analogy works. Homo sapiens-sapiens  has not for the most part evolved as a critical thinker on matters not immediately pertaining to survival of the clan. That makes her easily manipulated in an age of corporate owned mass media. But one aspect of the analogy gets rather less attention. Prior to cheating the hangman by way of cyanide pill, here’s what Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring told the US psychologist allowed to interview him in his condemned cell.

Early in his piece – entitled, ‘We’re in 1938 now’: Putin’s war in Ukraine and lessons from history – Patrick Wintour cites Estonia’s prime minister, of whom I wrote in a footnote to my June 3 post:

 Kaja Kallas, leader of tiny Estonia, issues shrill calls for NATO boots on Ukraine soil. (Echoing Hillary’s self entitlement, she even put herself up for NATO Secretary General since it was “time the job went to a woman”.)

I’ve edited for brevity the passage below, from the Wintour piece:

In her hi-tech office in Tallinn, Ms Kallas argued this was a 1938 moment – with a wider war imminent but the west not yet joining the dots. The proximate causes of the current conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East, the South China Sea and even Armenia may differ but the bigger picture is interconnected; post-cold war certainties having given way to “great-power competition”, with authoritarian leaders testing the boundaries of their empires. The lesson – and necessity – was to resist and rearm. “The lesson from 1938 and 1939 is that if aggression pays off somewhere, it serves as an invitation to use it elsewhere … So you had in Czechoslovakia, like Ukraine, an imperfect democracy. It’s the farthest democracy in eastern Europe. It has various problems, but when threatened by a larger neighbour, it chooses to resist. Had Czechoslovakia resisted in 1938, and the French, British and maybe Americans started to help, there would have been a conflict, but no WW2.

Knowingly or through useful idiocy this desk-warrior is doing one or both of two things. First, he’s arguing for Russia to be fought to the last Ukrainian while a president whose term expired on May 20 pushes a bill through the Rada to send 18 year-olds to their deaths within a degraded and demoralised army waging a futile war on behalf of the US-led West. Second, he’s urging a widening of the conflict and doing so by recycling the Munich ’38 trope, heedless of the risk of WW3. Or rather, standing that risk on its head in wet-streets-cause-rain  fashion.

As clowns go, Patrick Wintour is of the decidedly unfunny sort.

Taking down pieces like this line by line is like shooting midges with an air rifle. I’ve neither time nor energy for so Sisyphean a task. Instead I’ll list the whopping holes. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to check whether the factual assertions I make below are accurate, then, when you find that they are, to see how many of the fuckers rate a mention in Patrick Wintour’s dreadful piece.

Spoiler alert, the answer is zero. Chomsky, who without offering alternative paths Russia might have taken condemned the SMO of February 2022, is nevertheless right in saying she was big time provoked. The following apply:

  • In 1989, apropos German reunification, US Secretary of State James Baker assured Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would expand “not an inch eastwards”. In light of this, Patrick Wintour’s throwaway aside, made without a shred of substantiation or even elaboration, on “Putin’s unrivalled record of broken promises”  is eyebrow-raising – for those who still deem his employer capable of speaking truth to power on such matters.
  • Given the smoking gun nature of Mr Baker’s promise, echoed by other Western  leaders including Mrs Thatcher – given too the difficulty of memory-holing it once and for all – an energetic “debunking” industry was to be expected. Do the research. (Consider ditching Chrome and Bing in favour of Tor and Duck-Duck-Go.) And broken promise or no, NATO’s expansion threatens Russia existentially. That’s one reason Vladimir Putin was re-elected by a landslide in March this year. Nor would the US ruling class allow – think Cuba ’62, and the savagery of Washington backed dictatorships in Latin America – a tenth of such provocation near its own borders. The hypocrisy is either ignored, Patrick Wintour style, or chalked up in so many words to US exceptionalism – so that’s alright thenSimon Tisdall style.

  • NATO expansion has been worsened by Washington walking away from treaty after arms limitation treaty. With Russia on the ropes, a Beltway drunk on its toxic fantasy of a New American Century now already consigned – rather like the Thousand Twelve Year Reich if we’re trading Hitler/Munich comparisons – to the dustbin of history had seen no call for compromise or diplomacy. As I wrote in March:

Ukraine joining NATO would have irked the Russians, yes, but more serious was Bush’s 2001 abrogation of the ABM Treaty. This, in tandem with a Georgia and/or Ukraine in NATO, could place nuclear missiles within a few second strike time of Moscow

  • US meddling in Ukraine and Caucasus led first to the failed ‘orange revolution’ of 2005, then to the successful ousting in February 2014 of Russia-leaning Viktor Yanukovych to place a US pliant regime in Kiev. (The media-fest over Victoria Nuland’s “fuck the EU” remark obscured the graver truth of a US Assistant Secretary of State calmly discussing, with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, who would and who would not be allowed to serve in that regime.)
  • Other moves to curb Russia and shore up the US as global hegemon are set out with remarkable, and remarkably prescient, candour in the 2019 Rand Report cited at some length here.
  • Ukraine fell hostage in 2014 to “nationalists” as Russophobic as they are anti-Semitic. (To say that Zelensky being Jewish negates the latter is too childish for words.) The laws and policies it ushered in triggered eight years of civil war in east Ukraine, where the UN say 14,000 ethnic Russians died before February 2022.  Zelensky, who now rules by diktat as an increasingly deranged fall guy after the expiry of his term on May 20, was elected on a 2019 ticket of mending fences with Russia and, by honouring Minsk to give the Donbas a say in its destiny, east Ukraine. Instead, west Ukrainian “nationalists” – fascists of Azov, C14 and generally Banderite stripe – made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. That’s easily forgotten when ‘liberal’ writers like Patrick Wintour, who from 2014-21 voiced frequent alarm at Ukraine’s slide to the right, now find it better for their careers to forget all of that save for a single reference – cryptic and risibly euphemistic, buried deep in the piece and in any case a third party quote – to “Ukraine’s imperfect democracy”. 
  • The West’s deceit over Minsk cannot be listed as a provocation since Angela Merkel and François Hollande only admitted or more accurately boasted of it after the SMO began. But was foot dragging on self determination in the Donbas, calculated as we now know to further that deceit while slaughter continued apace in east Ukraine, an aggravant? Is the pope a Catholic?

These are the main points. Our media lie more by omission (though lies of commission come thick and fast when stakes rise for our ruling elites) and this execrable piece is riddled with omission. Maybe its author is the devil incarnate, for whom nuclear brinksmanship is a hoot. But devils are few and far between in my experience. I offer a truth more mundane:

Journalists who know what’s good for them please editors.  Editors who know what’s good for them please proprietors. Proprietors – whether Guardian Media Group or the Citizen Kane king-makers of Murdoch, Rothermere and Barclay Bros stripe – not only crave honours and a seat at the high table but, more systemically, are subject to the market discipline of advertising: and in GMG’s case the neo-feudal beneficence of wealthy patrons who need do nothing so vulgar as spell out their expectations. That they can at any moment withdraw their love and turn off the money flows is corruption enough.

In the unlikely event that such mechanisms be found wanting, well, not all of us have forgotten that following publication of the Snowden Diaries, and subsequent knock on the door by MI5, a Guardian senior editor has taken his D-Notice committee seat alongside the heads of military intelligence. Slice it as you will, when push comes truly to shove, GMG stands firmly within elites whose interests may not – sorry, this has to be said – align entirely with yours or mine.

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