Sunday, August 19, 2018

Willian Blum - The Anti-Empire Report # 159

The mind of the mass media: Email exchange between myself and a leading Washington Post foreign policy reporter:
July 18, 2018
The US says it is not influencing elections but is supporting democracy, but if the wrong person get's elected, well? 'Democray' supports the elite well, like 'free markets' do, because they have to power to influence elections and rig the market. It's like a game of monopoly where once someone has got ahead and started winning it is very difficult to stop them as they buy up all the property on the board. The ruling elite made most of their wealth out of the 500 year slave trade, and like in a game of monopoly, they can buy up the world. But they can also create money out of nothing in their banks to buy up the world's resources. This is considered to be free markets at work, but it's a paradox, because are they really free when a few individuals own everything in the world? KV

Dear Mr. Birnbaum,
You write Trump “made no mention of Russia’s adventures in Ukraine”. Well, neither he nor Putin nor you made any mention of America’s adventures in the Ukraine, which resulted in the overthrow of the Ukrainian government in 2014, which led to the justified Russian adventure. Therefore …?
If Russia overthrew the Mexican government would you blame the US for taking some action in Mexico?
William Blum
Dear Mr. Blum,
Thanks for your note. “America’s adventures in the Ukraine”: what are you talking about? Last time I checked, it was Ukrainians in the streets of Kiev who caused Yanukovych to turn tail and run. Whether or not that was a good thing, we can leave aside, but it wasn’t the Americans who did it.
It is, however, Russian special forces who fanned out across Crimea in February and March 2014, according to Putin, and Russians who came down from Moscow who stoked conflict in eastern Ukraine in the months after, according to their own accounts.
Best, Michael Birnbaum
To MB,
I can scarcely believe your reply. Do you read nothing but the Post? Do you not know of high State Dept official Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador in Ukraine in Maidan Square to encourage the protesters? She spoke of 5 billion (sic) dollars given to aid the protesters who were soon to overthrow the govt. She and the US Amb. spoke openly of who to choose as the next president. And he’s the one who became president. This is all on tape. I guess you never watch Russia Today (RT). God forbid! I read the Post every day. You should watch RT once in a while.
William Blum
To WB,
I was the Moscow bureau chief of the newspaper; I reported extensively in Ukraine in the months and years following the protests. My observations are not based on reading. RT is not a credible news outlet, but I certainly do read far beyond our own pages, and of course I talk to the actual actors on the ground myself – that’s my job.

And: yes, of course Nuland was in the Maidan – but encouraging the protests, as she clearly did, is not the same as sparking them or directing them, nor is playing favorites with potential successors, as she clearly did, the same as being directly responsible for overthrowing the government. I’m not saying the United States wasn’t involved in trying to shape events. So were Russia and the European Union. But Ukrainians were in the driver’s seat the whole way through. I know the guy who posted the first Facebook call to protest Yanukovych in November 2013; he’s not an American agent. RT, meanwhile, reports fabrications and terrible falsehoods all the time. By all means consume a healthy and varied media diet – don’t stop at the US mainstream media. But ask yourself how often RT reports critically on the Russian government, and consider how that lacuna shapes the rest of their reporting. You will find plenty of reporting in the Washington Post that is critical of the US government and US foreign policy in general, and decisions in Ukraine and the Ukrainian government in specific. Our aim is to be fair, without picking sides.
Best, Michael Birnbaum
======================= end of exchange =======================
Right, the United States doesn’t play indispensable roles in changes of foreign governments; never has, never will; even when they offer billions of dollars; even when they pick the new president, which, apparently, is not the same as picking sides. It should be noticed that Mr Birnbaum offers not a single example to back up his extremist claim that RT “reports fabrications and terrible falsehoods all the time.” “All the time”, no less! That should make it easy to give some examples.
For the record, I think RT is much less biased than the Post on international affairs. And, yes, it’s bias, not “fake news” that’s the main problem – Cold-War/anti-Communist/anti-Russian bias that Americans have been raised with for a full century. RT defends Russia against the countless mindless attacks from the West. Who else is there to do that? Should not the Western media be held accountable for what they broadcast? Americans are so unaccustomed to hearing the Russian side defended, or hearing it at all, that when they do it can seem rather weird.
More here
Paul Craig Roberts has a good intro to this too -
The CIA Owns the US and European Media


Konrad said...

“We’re still waiting for some evidence of actual Russian interference in the election aimed at determining the winner.” ~ Paul Craig Roberts

The Russia-gate hoax serves many purposes. One purpose is to help sustain the illusion of democracy.

For example, the claim is that Russia “meddled” in the presidential election of Nov 2016. That is, Russia supposedly swayed enough Americans to get Trump elected. Russia presumably did this by ordering Wikileaks to expose the corruption of Hillary and the DNC. (It was “evil” to expose Hillary’s evil.)

However U.S. presidents are chosen by the 538 members of the Electoral College, not by the popular vote.

In the 2016 election, Trump won by 77 electoral votes. Only seven Electors voted for a candidate different from the one for whom they were pledged to vote. Hillary Clinton lost five of her pledged electors, while Trump lost two. So why not subpoena all 304 electors who voted for Trump, and demand to know if they were following Russian orders?

The reason why no one suggests this is that the Russia-gate hoax (like all hoaxes) depends on blind faith and endless repetition. A hoax can only be sustained if the masses ask no questions about it, and punish anyone who does ask questions.

Once the blind faith has been established, lies become "true." A hoax becomes a “fact" and "common sense." Cult members smugly declare that there are “mountains of evidence” for the hoax. Any questioning of the hoax becomes “ridiculous,” and an example of “hate speech.”

Blind faith helps people make “sense” of their miserable lives by giving them a reason to not look at reality.

Are you having hard times? Don’t worry; Jesus is coming, and the Mueller “investigation” will yield irrefutable proof...someday.

Konrad said...

Speaking of meddling, on this day in 1953 (19 Aug), President Eisenhower authorized the CIA to engineer the coup in Iran.

In 1925 the U.K. had installed Reza Shah Pahlavi as king (i.e. Shah).

In Sep 1941 the U.K. and the Soviets removed him when they invaded Iran to grab the oil. (The U.K. also invaded Iraq to get the oil.)

At the end of WW II, the Shah’s son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi became king, but at age 26 he took a hands-off approach to government. Parliament became unstable, and from the 1947 to 1951, Iran had six different prime ministers. In 1951 Iran’s parliament voted to nationalize Iran’s oil industry.

That started the countdown to the coup of 1953, after which Mohammad Reza Pahlavi became a murderous dictator and U.S.-Israeli puppet for 26 years until he was overthrown in 1979.

(The experience of brutal dictatorship is why Iranians emphasize that they now have an Islamic Republic, as opposed to a monarchy.)