Monthly Archives: May 2016

Humanitarian aid not fit to mention

“Russia’s Emergencies Ministry has dispatched the 52nd truck convoy with humanitarian aid to Donbass” reports RT.com. “Since August 2014, Russia has sent 51 convoys with 61,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Donbass.” According to the ministry’s press service the 52nd delivery consist largely of “foodstuffs, daily essentials, medicines, firefighting equipment, and art and educational books”.

These kinds of news will never appear in Swedish media, of course. (I suppose our MSM would rather describe them as examples of the Russian “information war” which perpetually obsess them). The only convoy of interest was the first one, as we remember. It was made an object of suspicion: “Russian tricks to smuggle weapons and contraband”, or ridicule: “some of the trucks are empty”.

After a long time waiting for permits from Kiev to cross the border – permits that never came – the first convoy just took off to its destinations and unloaded. That was the last we heard from these humanitarian expeditions in our media. The New York Times though – a few convoys later – had an informative article about the living conditions in eastern Donbass in which the reporter interviewed a restaurant owner who testified that these deliveries of basic means of existence were essential for life in the haunted region.

There is no need to regard the Russian government as more altruistic then other governments to be able to explain these relief operations. They simply help people of Russian heritage or affinity in need. The urge to help may (or may not) be enhanced by the Kremlin refusal to fulfill the deepest wishes of these people, namely to join their spiritual motherland. In fact, Russia helps citizens in a foreign country, moreover a country before whom Russia (even in a resolution to the United Nations Security Council) has pledged to respect and protect its independence and sovereignty (with Crimea as an exclusive exception).

The despicable Putin is determined that people in all of Donbass shall stay Ukrainian citizens forever. What Kremlin supports is simply that some degree of self-determination be granted people there. Kiev on the other hand obviously sees the inhabitants in rebel held parts of Ukraine as enemies suitable to kill with artillery shells. Consequently, those Ukrainians don’t qualify for humanitarian aid from Kiev, instead they suffer elimination of their economic rights, such as pensions and other allowances.

This doesn’t fit well with western propaganda. Russia is presumed to occupy eastern Donbass and wage a war against Ukraine, supposedly with the intention to conquer the entire country. That’s anyway what the leaders in Kiev repeatedly have claimed, supported by western media. In order to uphold that distorted view it is necessary to disregard and keep behind a smokescreen everything substantial of what Moscow says and does.

It’s self-evident that states and governments are no moral agents; they can say and do whatever they have the power to do and say. The Russian government is no exception. But government’s statements and actions can and should be constantly scrutinized by their citizens, and their possible lies and wrong-doings revealed.

As mere citizens we should also comply with the principle of moral universalism, which states that we must follow the same standards as we apply to others. We should hence as Swedes meticulously dissect our own propaganda before we accuse others of the same misconduct. This principle is violated to a level of absurdity by media in my country; themselves distorting facts and serving half-lies and pure lies without discrimination, aggressively accuse Russia of waging an “information war”.

One of the “state controlled” outlets for this Russian propaganda is said to be RT, the most visited TV news channel on YouTube. Vilifying RT may sooner or later prove to be an own goal as more and more people take part of the media market unconstrained by our usual, self-censored media. If anything, the accusations may lure people to watch the defamed “propaganda channels” themselves, if not for other reason than pure curiosity.

Those who look up RT.com to check for the propaganda will find a bunch of citizens from western countries – US, Britain, Irland etcetera – presenting news and writing editorials in impeccable English. One needs to look hard to find any genuine Russians. The selection of news is naturally focused on Russia, but RT also digs up other events that we seldom hear anything of. Thus we can in RT read about inconvenient demonstrations and embarrassing statements (like for instance this one: “WWII happened because Russia attacked Germany, and that must be prevented from happening again” /paraphrase/, uttered by Yatsenyuk during his visit to Merkel) which are more or less suppressed by western media.

We are back to one of the simplest truisms among definitions: “Propaganda is the other guy’s lies, not mine”.

 

 

Voilà! Now the Russians use EU research projects when they spy!

When we were asked in school what we first of all wished for the future we usually answered: “a peaceful world”. When we were slightly older we added: “good health”. And I suppose that these are the priorities we stick to through life. And yet we are so naively susceptible to warmongers when they inflame our feelings against one or other “enemy”, that we suddenly forget all the horrors that lack of peace implies.

The incitement against Russia in our media these days is pathetic and utterly scary. Every possible “news” is bent to portray Russia as a dangerous enemy with evil intentions, as if to prepare us for the necessity of a coming war.

Some days ago a special Russian airplane, engaged to perform tasks in an international research program on the climate, financed by EU, was expelled from Sweden. As part of the research project it was intended to fly in areas which authorities considered “sensitive”, with the consequence that the permit was withdrawn. For disputed reasons the plane could not take off to Russia in the stipulated time and was grounded on a distant airport. This urged my sophisticated newspaper to cry out: “A Russian aircraft violated Swedish territory for several days”.

Any suspicions of the plane being used by the Russians for spying purposes was rejected by the German leader of the research team, Fred Stroh. “On arrival to the base the plane is stripped almost naked and you can look into it everywhere” says Stroh, doubting that it would be possible to sneak in any spy equipment; “the space is occupied by our instruments”. The reason for hiring this particular plane was that it is built to operate on high altitudes. In the project it was intended to measure things like water vapor and ozone.

The research team had rent a special hangar in Kiruna and transported their equipment in containers from Germany some 2,000 kilometers, everything in vain. Had an equivalent event happened in Russia our newspapers had certainly focused on the disappointment among the members of the research team and denounced Russia deeply for its ludicrous suspicions.

It’s hardly plausible that the Swedish authorities really expected any Russian spying during this environmental project. The plane could be inspected any time by any conceivable Swedish expert, and foul play by the Russians had been a dreadful blow to all possible good-will they had achieved. But the propaganda has reached such a “high” level that our media can assume the Russians to be stupid beyond all limits, and get away with it.

More probable than the spy suspicions are that the withdrawing of the permit in itself served its purpose in the propaganda war. And our prime paper – Dagens Nyheter – fulfilled its duty in serving the whole story as a hostile and insidious action by our arch enemy.

Why in the world should Sweden join NATO?

Our establishment media are working hard nowadays to pilot Sweden into NATO. That’s certainly one of the reasons for their absurd and intense vilification of Russia, a country portrayed (by our main paper, among others) as historically aggressive and violent. “NATO has of course never planned an attack eastward” writes one of the elevated editors without a hint of irony, while NATO countries still poke around among the ruins in Afghanistan and Iraq, trying to end only the two latest of brutal, illegal and immoral wars waged on the East.

“Because the threat is a Russian threat” asserts the same editorial (thus overruling international – US made – polls showing that a substantial majority of the world’s population deems the United States to be the greatest threat to peace and security). We are back to the former cold war, when we were made to believe that the evil Soviet communists were ready to attack and conquer the whole world any minute.

The Soviets in those days obviously showed their aggressiveness by some battalion size attacks in Czechoslovakia and DDR (the agreed Soviet sphere of influence), atrocities that we still frequently are remembered of. A few hundred people were killed in these operations, which we aren’t allowed to forget. At the same time US with some allies killed millions of people in Indochina, about which my noble newspaper initially suppressed any critique, and today mainly keeps in merciful oblivion.

(The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan proved disastrous in many ways, as wars often do. It became a starting point for extreme jihadism in that area, as well as a prelude to the breakdown of the Soviet Empire.)

Reasonably sensible people back then realized that the Soviets had neither the capacity for military attacks on western countries, nor any interest in doing so. Western powers proved those people right when the wall ultimately fell. The entire pretext for establishing NATO had been “the Russians are coming”. Now, instead of dismantling NATO, the organization added more member states and was moved closer to the Russian borders. There is no more distinct way to say: “sorry, we’ve lied to you about the communist threat for forty years”.

Today’s Russia is weaker than the Soviet Union in relative terms. First of all, it has just half the population, and its military budget is a small fraction of NATO’s. Moreover, the Russian economy is mainly market driven and thus dependent on other countries to a much larger extent than before. Against that background it should be completely ridiculous to portray Russia as a military threat to Sweden. But stupidity is not an obstacle for propaganda. When nationalistic reflexes are played upon, (we) the public swallows almost everything.

We don’t ask ourselves who is served by this war mongering. Sweden may not have the same kind of military-industrial complex as the US, but still we have relatively large weapons producers and substantial weapons exports. And our military forces, suffering losses during the cold-war-free 1990s, can feel the smell of fresh air and growing budgets. To catalyze this process, they for a while reclaimed the old submarine hoax that already had compromised our marine forces in front of the whole world long ago. But as already noted: stupidities work, the larger the better.

But what drive our editors to their skewed descriptions of Russia, filled with half-truths and complete lies, under a thin cover of barely correct facts? To satisfy the weapons industry or the military seems not quite sufficient. Is it just some right wing reflexes that deprives them of honesty and truthfulness? Or is it concern for an increase of their paper’s circulation by means of fear mongering? Any way: lots of things for progressives to follow in the future.