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The Meme of “Russian Aggression”

The BBC's Drums of War
The Meme of “Russian Aggression”

“Russian aggression” is the BBC’s meme of the day. I lost count of how many times the phrase popped up in the first 15 minutes of Radio 4’s World at One programme, devoted entirely to the ‘Russian problem – but the theme was drummed in relentlessly.

The idea is that Russia presents a huge a growing threat to world peace and stability. Russian bombers are threatening the ‘English’ Channel (albeit strictly from international airspace). Russia is an expansionist power attacking sovereign nations, Ukraine in particular. And watch it – we’re next!

Commentators wheeled into the studio were unanimous in their views. NATO must stand up to the threat. Presient Vladimir Putin is a dangerous monster who refuses to abide by the rules of the international order. NATO countries must increase their defence spending to counter the Russian menace.

Not a single moderating voice was included in the discussion. No one to ask Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, if alliance aircraft ever fly close to Russia’s borders (they do). No one to point out that the real Ukrainian narrative in is not that of Russia’s ‘annexation’ of Crimea – but of NATO’s US-led annexation of Ukraine itself.

No one to argue that Russia’s assimilation of Crimea was effected with hardly a shot being fired, backed by overwhelming support in a referendum which reflected the popular will – and if you’re in any doubt, just compare it to Israel’s ongoing and endlessly justified annexation of Palestine.

The lies are in what the media don’t tell us


Pay Per Vote: the Wave of the Future?

Cut Out the Political Middlemen!
Pay Per Vote: the Wave of the Future?

American voters don’t come cheap. Seven billion dollars were spent on the 2012 election to influence the 117 million people who turned out to vote. That’s about $60 per voter. What an inefficient and costly system! How archaic!

Think of the many terrific advantages in skipping the middlemen and paying each voter directly. Two are obvious: It would be much cheaper for the donors. It would vastly increase the voter participation rate. Imagine all those stay-at-homes who would be happy to earn, say, $25 for just taking a quick trip to the local poll. At $25 per voter, that would save the donors more than three billion dollars.

And the remaining four billion dollars spent on the election would go directly to the people, especially folks who really need it, instead of to the media and the politicians. Although this would be just a modest step toward directly decreasing inequality, it would be adding a significant addition to consumer purchasing power, thus stimulating the economy and creating jobs.

Besides the obvious savings, donors would not have to keep giving money to politicians in between campaigns, and expensive lobbying would be a thing of the past. Ideally, elected representatives and other officials would wear the logos of the corporations or individuals whose funds had bought their election.

Eliminating election advertising would be a boon to the quality of media content. Since the money would not be going directly to the politicians, they could be honest—in fact would have to be honest—about whom they really represent. Thus dishonesty and bogus promises would no longer be the hallmark of our political culture.


The European Union May Be on the Verge of Collapse

The European Union May Be on the Verge of Collapse

The complex federal project of the EU has proven fragile in the absence of a strong external threat.
John Feffer
January 27, 2015


Europe won the Cold War.

Not long after the Berlin Wall fell a quarter of a century ago, the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States squandered its peace dividend in an attempt to maintain global dominance and Europe quietly became more prosperous, more integrated and more of a player in international affairs. Between 1989 and 2014, the European Union (EU) practically doubled its membership and catapulted into third place in population behind China and India. It currently boasts the world’s largest economy and also heads the list of global trading powers. In 2012, the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize for transforming Europe “from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”

In the competition for “world’s true superpower,” China loses points for still having so many impoverished peasants in its rural hinterlands and a corrupt, illiberal bureaucracy in its cities; the United States, for its crumbling infrastructure and a hypertrophied military-industrial complex that threatens to bankrupt the economy. As the only equitably prosperous, politically sound and rule-of-law-respecting superpower, Europe comes out on top, even if—or perhaps because—it doesn’t have the military muscle to play global policeman.

And yet, for all this success, the European project is currently teetering on the edge of failure. Growth is anemic at best and socio-economic inequality is on the rise. The countries of Eastern and Central Europe, even relatively successful Poland, have failed to bridge the income gap with the richer half of the continent. And the highly indebted periphery is in revolt.


Teenage warriors prepare for battle as part of Right Sector's Ukrainian Volunteer Corps

Teenage warriors prepare for battle as part of Right Sector's Ukrainian Volunteer Corps
Kyiv Post
Jan. 27, 2015, 4:57 p.m. | Ukraine — by Stefan Huijboom

Young men and teenagers as young as 16 are being recruited to fight against Russia in the eastern Donbas. This group is part of the ultranationalist Right Sector's Ukrainian Volunteer Corps.

As a misty wet snow falls on the slippery streets of Kyiv, a group of young men stand outside a building, some smoking cigarettes and most wearing camouflage clothes.

These young men have signed up for the DUK Battalion, or Ukrainian Volunteer Corps, a fighting force affiliated with the ultra-nationalist Right Sector (Pravy Sektor) group.

As they line up in front of the building, their group leader is shouting at them to hurry up. They are waiting for their bus that will escort them to a training camp some 50 miles outside of Kyiv. There, they will be trained to go to war.

Among these men is 16-year-old Andriy, who does not want to give his last name because some members of his family don’t know about his plans to fight as a volunteer in eastern Ukraine.


Kiev ‘punishes’ civilians in Donetsk with travel permits and drugs blockade

Kiev ‘punishes’ civilians in Donetsk with travel permits and drugs blockade
Shaun Walker in Donetsk

Ukrainians in disputed areas suffer as Kiev restricts access to food, electricity and medicines

Patients at a hospital in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on Monday. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters

As the conflict in East Ukraine enters another hot phase, residents of the rebel-controlled territories say they are now stranded due to a new travel permit system introduced by Kiev, while aid organisations have warned that a medical crisis could be on the horizon as Ukrainian authorities refuse to let through vital medicines.

“Since November, a series of measures taken by the Ukrainian government has effectively cut off civilians living in rebel-controlled areas and made it increasingly difficult to provide humanitarian aid,” said a statement by Médecins sans Frontières. The organisation said it had tried to deliver medical supplies to hospitals in the frontline city of Gorlovka on two occasions last week and failed to get through.

The situation will only be exacerbated by a permit system introduced last week, requiring anyone who wants to cross the line between Ukrainian-controlled territories and the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics to apply for a special pass. Applications are only accepted in Ukrainian-held territory, with the catch-22 situation that those in rebel-held territories cannot get to the permit application centre because they need a permit to get there.

Oleg Izmailov, a local journalist, called the new system “both idiotic and a breach of human rights”.

The only option for residents of Donetsk and other rebel-held towns to obtain the permit is to drive to the first Ukrainian checkpoint and hand over the application to soldiers, explaining their reasons for wanting a permit. However, the soldiers only accept a few applications per hour, meaning people wait for hours in the cold to hand over the documents, and then have to drive back 10 days later to find out if they have been granted permission. On Monday morning there was heavy shelling around the checkpoint, forcing cars to turn back to Donetsk.

Full Story:

Et Tu, Frontline?

OpEdNews Op Eds 1/25/2015 at 15:30:48
Et Tu, Frontline?
By Patrice Greanville

Putin by DonkeyHotey (via flickr)

Hatchet job on Putin only demonstrates the conformist spirit permeating US journalism


Frontline sees itself as an implacable observer of political and social reality, an uncompromising witness to contemporary history. The truth is often a lot less flattering.

As a legendary liberal franchise, Frontline has frequently produced interesting and even controversial reports on a variety of topics, including the NRA's intransigence to gun control, the abortion wars, JFK's assassination, the modern KKK, "Bush's War" (somewhat critical of the Iraq War's genesis as something of a botched, incompetent affair, but not scandalized by its sheer immorality, arrogance, systemic roots or broader purposes), and a host of other issues, but when it comes to foreign policy questions in which the American empire is again competing with some invidiously designated foe (these days the villains are again Russia and China), it behaves, conceits aside, like the rest of the conformist pack, as little more than an stenographer to power.

Given that thinly-veiled script, it doesn't take long for the show to deliver an unrelenting cascade of innuendo against Putin. Apparently the show's producers could not refrain from vacuuming up and regurgitating just about every negative cliche disseminated by the Western media since the official demonization of the Russian leader began, except that in this case, Frontline being Frontline, the closest equivalent to the New York Times on television, the weapon of choice is not so much the bludgeon favored by Fox News' crude propagandists, but the scalpel and the stiletto, the half-truths and omissions of truth, and the decapitation of context, in short the far more subtle, insidious and highly effective natural tools of the centrist corporatist liberal.

The first few minutes set the tone:

ANDREY ZYKOV, Former Police Investigator: [through interpreter] Well, of course, there has always been corruption in Russia, but building it into such a meticulous system was something only Mr. Putin has managed to do. Could Putin be held criminally responsible based on the evidence that has already been gathered? Absolutely, yes.

From that point on, it only gets worse.

Students of American propaganda usually have a problem: not the scarcity of items to prove their case, but precisely the opposite, the overabundance of material. Practically everything said or shown on mainstream media that concerns American foreign policy, especially on television, is riddled with so much bias and outright falsehood that codifying and answering such outrages on a case by case basis is simply an impossible, gargantuan task, a fact that --besides their monopolizing the mainstream media--prevents any meaningful or timely response by genuinely impartial observers.

Full story, links, and transcript:

“US, Ukraine and Russia: What Went Wrong?” A talk by John Mearsheimer and Rick Rozoff, Evanston, Ill

“US, Ukraine and Russia: What Went Wrong?” A talk by John Mearsheimer and Rick Rozoff, Evanston, Illinois
Kim Scipes - January 22, 2015

Two widely recognized authorities on big power politics and NATO recently gave a public talk on the current situation in the Ukraine at the Evanston (Illinois) Public Library. Organized by the Evanston Neighbors for Peace, John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago (http://mearsheimer.uchicago.edu), and Rick Rozoff, a long-time activist who maintains the “Stop NATO—Opposition to Global Militarism” web site (https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com), spent three hours recently trying to cut through the lies and obfuscation that the US public has been fed around the current developments in Ukraine.

Excerpt below: Link to full article: http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=5396§ion=Article

Mearsheimer started off, noting the “significant deterioration in US-Russian foreign relations.” He argued this situation is “fundamentally wrong.”

He gave background to what’s going on. Basically, US-Russian relations were ok until February 22, 2014. Since then, things have gone “down the toilet bowl.” (On February 22, 2014, there was a coup in Kiev, Ukraine, where protestors—which the support of the US Government—overthrew the democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych.)

Before February 22, there was no evidence of American or European policy makers being concerned with Ukraine. US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, stated there was “no reason to contain Russia,” and said that the US did not see [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as an “aggressor.” There was no evidence to suggest otherwise.

Since the coup, Russia has encouraged the citizens of Crimea—a Russian speaking area that had been given to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954—to reunite with Russia, which they did via a local referendum in March 2014. At the same time, there’s been a war “by virtually all accounts” in the Eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian government on one side, and Russia-supporting rebels on the other.

The US blames Putin for all of the turmoil. According to Mearsheimer, the US is acting “like kids who never understand what they’ve done wrong.” Some commentators have called Putin “a new Hitler,” which Mearsheimer says such arguments are “ludicrous in the extreme”: nothing that Putin has done has ever put him in the category of Hitler.

Link to full article: http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=5396§ion=Article

Death toll in Ukraine conflict exceeds 5,000, may be 'considerably higher' – UN

Death toll in Ukraine conflict exceeds 5,000, may be 'considerably higher' – UN

A resident of the Artema suburb of Sloviansk, Ukraine, in the rubble of what used to be her summer kitchen, in July 2014. Photo: UNHCR/Iva Zimova


23 January 2015 – More than 5,000 people have now been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine in mid-April last year, the United Nations human rights office said today as it expressed fear that the real figure may be 'considerably higher.'

Escalation of hostilities since 13 January has raised the total death toll in the country to at least 5,086 and some 10,948 people have been wounded between mid-April last year and 21 January 2015, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“In just nine days, between 13 and 21 January, at least 262 people were killed due to the hostilities. That is an average of at least 29 people killed per day. This has been the most deadly period since the declaration of a ceasefire on 5 September,” OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville said at a press conference in Geneva.

In addition to the intense fighting and shelling in the embattled Donetsk region, shelling has also been reported in several towns of Luhansk region.

The killing of civilians when an artillery shell hit a bus stopping for passengers in the Leninskyi district of Donetsk yesterday was the second bus attack, with significant casualties, in the last 10 days. This has brought into 'stark focus' the impact of the ongoing hostilities on civilians.

“We are concerned about the lack of implementation of the 12 provisions of the Minsk Protocol and the continuing presence of foreign fighters in the east, allegedly including servicemen from the Russian Federation, as well as the presence of heavy and sophisticated weaponry in populated areas under the control of armed groups,” Mr. Colville said.

“Civilians held or trapped in these areas are subject to a total lack of respect for human rights and the rule of law,” he added, reminding all parties to the conflict that international humanitarian law prohibits the targeting of civilians and that the principles of military necessity, distinction, proportionality and precaution must be strictly respected.

Mr. Colville also expressed concern over the impact on civilians of the recent decision by the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine to restrict movement in and out of the areas controlled by armed groups. As of 21 January, people travelling to and from these areas need to obtain special passes and provide documents to justify the need to travel.

Full story:

I know the truth about what happened in Crimea, starting with a constitutional crisis in Ukraine

I also know the actual order of events, which the media and governments have purposely distorted.

I have posted on this before.

First off, Crimea has always fought to be part of Russia. When the Soviet Union disbanded there was a big fight over it. The compromise was autonomy with it''s own constitution and government. In Ukraine basically by border only.
Corrupt Ukrainian judges declared that compromise null and replaced the Ukraine constitution during the banditry of the 90s which was bitterly fought against.

That is why the two options in the vote were
1. Become part of Russia
2. Stay with Ukraine and restore the original Crimea constitution.

When the government in Kiev was overthrown Crimea saw it as unconstitutional (I believe accurately). They came together, called a constitutional crisis. During that time the militia was formed and the first "little green men" were not Russian army, they were Crimean Militia.

Then Crimean felt threatened and asked for Russian military aid (because the people that are now essentially the Azov and Adar Battalions were roaming the country "enforcing order" and some were on the way to Crimea.)

Here is documentary proof from reporting coverage that shows the order of events. The large rallies were already occurring and the border was already being manned by militia - before Russian army members reinforced the border. Those russian army members were already legally in Crimea as They had remained there by contract since the fall of the USSR.

Most Censored of 2014: #9. US Media Hypocrisy in Covering Ukraine Crisis

US Media Hypocrisy in Covering Ukraine Crisis
Project Censored
October 1, 2014


Russia’s occupation of Crimea has caused US corporate media and government officials to call for a stern US response. Secretary of State John Kerry declaimed the Russian intervention as “a nineteenth-century act in the twenty-first century.” What Russia’s US critics seem to forget, Robert Parry reported, is the United States’ own history of overthrowing democratic governments, including the illegal invasion of Iraq, which Kerry supported.

Corporate media also fail to acknowledge that Putin ordered the occupation of Kiev after a coup led at least partly by neo-Nazis—conditions arguably less criminal than the US invasion of Iraq, which the US legitimized with false claims. “If Putin is violating international law by sending Russian troops into the Crimea after a violent coup spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias ousted Ukraine’s democratically elected president,” wrote Parry, “then why hasn’t the US government turned over George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and indeed John Kerry to the International Criminal Court for their far more criminal invasion of Iraq?” (In a similar vein, Noam Chomsky has written about the US occupation of Guantánamo in Cuba as another instance of the contradiction between the US position toward Russia and its own lack of respect for national sovereignty.)

Further, Ukraine’s democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled Kiev for his life after the coup and sought Russia’s help quelling the neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine, citing their oppression of the country’s native Russian population. It was only after this that Putin requested the Russian parliament’s permission to deploy Russian troops in to stop the expansion of neo-Nazi control to areas that have deep historical ties to Russia.
Nevertheless, while downplaying these details, US corporate media accuse Russia of violating international law. “The overriding hypocrisy of the Washington Post, Secretary Kerry and indeed nearly all of Official Washington, is their insistence that the United States actually promotes the principle of democracy or, for that matter, the rule of international law,” wrote Parry. “Those are at best situational ethics when it comes to advancing US interests around the world.” In a subsequent report, Parry wrote that, despite evidence to the contrary, US policy makers and corporate media have intentionally neglected to report that neo-Nazi militias played a central role in the February 22, 2014, overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych. Parry reported, “The US media’s take on the Ukraine crisis is that a ‘democratic revolution’ ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, followed by a ‘legitimate’ change of government. So, to mention the key role played by neo-Nazi militias in the putsch or to note that Yanukovych was democratically elected—and then illegally deposed—gets you dismissed as a ‘Russian propagandist.’”



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