Category Archives: Crimea

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”.

 

 

Putin – “the new Stalin” – to build a museum denouncing the former Stalin

When a licensed hawk like Dr. Henry Kissinger persistently argues that the present demonizing of Vladimir Putin in the West is not just bad policy, but even lack of policy, one could expect that at least those less right-wing than him had taken some notice. And when he with the same determination claims that Russia’s security interests near its borders must be recognized by USA and EU, he cannot be suspected to be Putin’s tool. A plausible conclusion is instead that western conservatives and liberals along the line have run amok in Russophobe frenzy.

The uniform narrative on the Russian issue, spread all over western mainstream media, is embarrassingly ignorant and naïve or – more exactly – mostly outright stupid. It’s as if the old format from the blatant anti-communist propaganda in the first cold war has been recovered from the archives and recycled. It’s not just one-sided, like all propaganda, it’s also deliberately misleading (or, as Paul Craig Roberts would say: it’s all lies).

(One hour ago I heard a segment in the Swedish public service radio, to take just a minuscule example. It has been reported today that Poroshenko will put forward new legislation that will permit some kind of autonomy for the break-away regions in eastern Ukraine. The “public service” reporter supposes that Poroshenko is under pressure from Germany and France (to get financial support), and then he devotes most of the time to an interview with some unknown Ukrainian nationalist who is allowed to thoroughly describe his opposition to the legislation. Not a word is said about the central fact: that the autonomy in question is a fundamental clause in the Minsk accords.)

According to our propaganda the civil war in Ukraine is “Putin’s war” although Russia had pushed harder than anyone else for a negotiated solution. “Putin wants to conquer Ukraine” (a lie by Yatsenjuk and others) although Russia has put forward a resolution to the UN Security Council, guaranteeing Ukraine’s integrity and secure borders. “Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union” (McCain et.al.), “Putin is a new Hitler” (Clinton) etcetera.

A completely different event concerning Putin has been announced by Professor Stephen Cohen in The Nation recently. No president in Russia before Putin has managed to push through the establishment of a museum commemorating all the victims of Stalin’s reign of terror. Now he has done that, probably in defiance of a large part of Russians that consider Stalin to be a great nation builder and a war-winning marshal. We now just have to wait and see how our media will distort the building of this museum to match the demonizing of Putin (if they can’t manage that, they can be expected to be dead silent). The museum will be inaugurated in October this year.

More about this issue can be listened to via The Nation’s web edition where Stephen Cohen discusses with John Batchelor.

The anatomy of propaganda – a contemporary plague

For quite some years in the 1960s our main newspaper – Dagens Nyheter – asserted that the Vietnam affair was a war waged by the communists – Soviet Russia and China with North Vietnamese as mercenaries – against the people of South Vietnam. Today we would call such propaganda unbelievably stupid. How could anyone swallow that? In fact, it was a different time, and it was swallowed.

It was no secret that South Vietnam, a US vassal state, was headed by one or other dictator, appointed and dismissed (and occasionally murdered) by CIA. But such details didn’t matter; in the fight against the profoundly evil world communism none of US’s actions, no matter how grotesque, were debatable.

Now we are back on the same playing field. According to DN and the western mainstream the fighting in Ukraine is not just to blame on Russia; it’s more exactly “Putin’s war”. To achieve this level of wisdom a number of elementary facts and logical truisms have to be overlooked.

It seems first of all self evident that someone who starts a war must want that war. Russia under Putin had worked insistently for years to build friendly commercial and political relations with the western world, in order to benefit its own development. Putin had just come home from the Sochi Olympics where Russia had invested billions to enhance its good-will in the world. Around that time the President of Ukraine was presented an ultimatum from EU to turn down an economic proposition from Russia as a precondition for an agreement with EU.

It would have been suicide for Ukraine (as we can see now), with its essential economic ties with Russia, to surrender the EU ultimatum. It didn’t, and the Maidan followed, exacerbated by neo-Nazi groups opening fire and throwing Molotov cocktails, the whole scenario with an unmistakable CIA scent all over it. The coup regime immediately demonstrated its hostility towards everything Russian and the possibility of the country eventually being overtaken by NATO became an obvious threat.

That Russia reacted by annexing Crimea, protecting its large naval base from falling under NATO control, was naturally a defensive move, enhanced by the dominantly Russian population’s wishes, demonstrated with overwhelming majority in a referendum. Such was Putin’s “crime”: a correction of history which should have taken place when Soviet Union collapsed, if the West had allowed itself some rational considerations instead of just wanting to annihilate Russia as much as possible.

The right-wing and anti-Russian coup urged people in the south-east to free themselves from Kiev rule. The rebel leaders hoped for Russian military intervention which they immediately learned they were not getting (one of the leaders then calling Russia “an enemy”). Russia’s policy has stayed the same ever since, communicated in words and actions over and over again: Ukraine (Crimea excluded) must remain a sovereign state with secured borders. The war must stop, and controversies be solved by negotiations, leading to some form of autonomy for the Donbas region.

But our media still labels this “Putin’s war”! Recently our propaganda pamphlet Dagens Nyheter proudly presented “two recognized experts on Russia” (one Lilia Sjevtsova and one James Sherr). The female one (from Brookings Institution) had the superhuman capacity to creep into Putin’s head and find out what he was thinking. After the successful Crimea expedition Putin thought, according to Lilia: “Why not also take south-eastern Ukraine?” Well, he so much didn’t want to take any part of Ukraine that he infuriated some rebel leaders. Lilia must have thought: “What the heck, facts have nothing to do with this!”

Mr. Sherr feels important enough to personally overrule the Minsk agreement, which he considers incompatible with Ukraine’s sovereignty, thus obviously disavowing Mr. Poroshenko himself. On Ms. Merkel’s statement that there is no military solution he comments: “It’s an extremely stupid cliche”.

Regardless of the Russian leaders’ aversion to the war in Ukraine, it is self evident that they won’t tolerate Kiev’s massacring of their countrymen in Donbas. Russia most certainly provides every kind of voluntary assistance a non-belligerent party is allowed, and maybe some more than that. For the West to moralize over Russia’s actions is presumptuous, to say the least, considering the 25 years of intense US/EU preparations for the present explosive situation.

The kind of Orwellian propaganda we have to consume day in and day out when we read our daily paper is hard to digest. (Luckily we can get the Internet version for free, which eases the pain.)

Russia wants united Ukraine – the West doesn’t care?

Russia created a problem for western biased Kremlinologists by submitting a resolution to the UN Security Council calling for the Council to reaffirm “its full respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine”, unanimously adopted on 17 February this year. This initiative contradicts the very basis for mainstream western propaganda, which requires Russian intentions to subdue Ukraine through a war of aggression, even aiming at territorial gains.

During the former cold war every benign signal from the Russians were easily interpreted as a form of insidious and diabolic tactic with hidden, evil intentions. This western habit of reversing messages is no longer feasible to the same extent. There are too many complementary sources of information and debate today, first of all on the ever growing Internet, but also in the mainstream.

It’s interesting in this context to follow the very mainstream New York Times, whose reporting and commentary on the whole is tilted towards anti-Russian views. Still NYT has some objective news reporting never seen in Swedish media, for instance from areas in Ukraine suffering from the shelling by Kiev forces. The tidy Readers Commentaries are often appealing on articles about the Ukraine conflict. In mostly very articulate posts people in general have a much broader and more enlightened view on the subject than the article itself reflects, often with appreciation for the Russian point of view.

What I can find in the NYT online archive, the Security Council resolution was reported only as a ten-line Reuter’s note. Its Swedish analogue, Dagens Nyheter, had a one-line misrepresentation of the resolution in an editorial otherwise venomously despising Russia. It seems that silencing is the only tactic left when the old cold war technique of turning benign into malignant no longer holds. But silencing won’t work either in this new, multifaceted media world.

What basis has western propaganda media had for their view of an aggressive Russia wanting war to subdue Ukraine? It seems that they have tried to conjure up a picture of the old communist wickedness under which to hide and repress everything important that Russia signals. For an un-blinded eye Russia didn’t look extremely pleased with the armed uprising in Donbas. Putin made remarks about Ukrainian unity early on, disavowing the not very happy rebel leaders. As events evolved Russia naturally couldn’t remain idle as Kiev let Nazi voluntaries loose in killing Russian speaking people, and was forced to engage in support of the separatists.

Throughout the whole process Putin and Lavrov has repeatedly demanded negotiations to solve the crisis, something never highlighted in western media. The core interest here has been to speculate (in the old Kremlinologist spirit) about what Putin “really” has in mind, as opposed to what he says. This is an occupation that must have taken scholars, politicians and other pundits man-years of fruitless work.

A criminal investigation starts by looking for a motive. Has Russia anything to gain from a war of aggression towards a neighboring country? As we have seen: then have everything to lose! So why did the war start? The basic analysis is made by Professor John Mearsheimer in Foreign Affairs, who demonstrates unequivocally that the West created the prerequisites through 25 years of systematic provocations against Russia (spending 5 bn dollars, according to Mrs. Nuland).

The problem with Crimea, a natural part of Russia with mostly Russian inhabitants and a large Russian military base, should have been solved 25 years ago by a proactive West. But that was not even considered since the single goal was to cripple the former Russian dominion as much as at all possible. The purpose has obviously been, not to solve any of Russia’s problems, but to create as many as time and money allowed.

It’s a hope for the future and for peace that so many people see through the western propaganda machinery. And it’s inspiring to read the commentary sections in all sorts of papers. What people write there is not picked up from mainstream media; it requires critical thinking of one’s own, a gratifying phenomenon that seems to be spreading. That’s why Kerry and others are talking about “information war”, and that war will in the long run be won by reason, insight and compassion.

Ukraine politics – western hypocrisy at its peak

Most things regarding the conflict in Ukraine are dealt with entirely propagandistic here in Sweden. On other issues our “Pravda” – Dagens Nyheter – usually lets through an occasional dissident voice, if only to get an alibi and at the same time by contrast enhance the proscribed view. Not so in this case. What happens now in Ukraine is confirmed to be a war of aggression, and the sole aggressor is Russia. Period.

There is no ambiguity about the Ukrainian government’s right to use force against its own citizens. Such questions are not discussed whatsoever. No one suggests that there would have been no war had the Ukrainian army not launched the attacks against their own citizens in Donbas. Despite that nobody suspected the independence forces in the Donbas area for any plans to conquer the rest of Ukraine.

Neither taken into account is the apparent divide between people in western Ukraine with links to Europe and those in the southeast with ties to Russia (of which tens of millions are related through intermarriages across the border). We (DN) obviously find it quite appropriate that one of these two parts rule over the other, even when there is no agreement on such a regime. And even when the suppressed part convincingly argues that the opponent has seized power trough an illegal street coup, spearheaded by Nazi elements, at that.

Very little is reported here about the way government forces conduct the battles; their indiscriminate firing of shells and rockets into cities, blowing innocent civilians to pieces and thus scaring away their own citizens, creating hundreds of thousands of refugees. Nor do we read very much about other results of this shelling: a destroyed infrastructure leaving the people who can’t flee destitute of elementary means of existence such as water, food and electricity.

But we had the guts to demonize and ridicule the Russians for sending a convoy of trucks with necessities to help those human beings in their neighboring country. There was much fuss about the first convoy; now at least five more have followed, obviously giving substantial relief for many people. It thus turned out that the Russians had benign intentions, a circumstance that immediately killed our media’s interest.

It’s fascinating and revealing to compare the identical events in Crimea and earlier in Kosovo. When a part of Serbia inhabited by a large group of Albanians wanted to secede from its motherland, USA and EU immediately engaged fully with the secessionists. To force Serbia to accept the creation of a sovereign Kosovo NATO bombed the Serbian capital for 78 days (thereby also killing some Chinese diplomats, creating additional problems). It’s notable that the ethnic cleansing performed by Serbia in Kosovo started as a reaction to the bombings, not the other way around.

When “we” intervened in Serbia it was under the auspices of R2P – responsibility to protect – a concept invented to justify the violent actions we for the moment are prone to engage in. Thus the very same kind of action, on identical pretexts, that we praised ourselves for as morally exemplary in Kosovo, we deemed Russia for as the most unlawful atrocity in Crimea. We can live with that since we have grown accustomed to our own hypocrisy, the worst kind of that one can think of. History will judge our politics as deprived of all moral.

Stupid losses of invaluable lives in meaningless wars.

Who’s killing whom in Ukraine? The secessionists in the southeast obviously declared independence from a government which they considered illegal, hostile and even dangerous to them and their Russian language, culture and religion. Thus they occupied buildings, obtained arms and built barricades. But they didn’t kill anyone.

“We” (US and EU) had no objections to the violent street coup in Kiev spearheaded by neo-Nazis, who then got important seats in the resulting new government (with a Prime Minister picked by US diplomats). Nor did we react towards blatant anti-Russian statements and decisions made by that government and directed towards their own citizens living in the southeastern part of the country.

During this phase we could easily have calmed down the situation, since the Ukrainian leaders were completely in our hands. We did the opposite. After each visit by characters like the US Vice President, the head of CIA, the notorious John McCain and others, the Ukrainian military made new attacks, though in the beginning rather futile. But we helped instigate the atrocities to come.

The regular Ukrainian army had qualms against killing their own fellow countrymen. It was not until the ruthless neo-Nazi elements in the so called militia were engaged that the indiscriminate murdering of civilians took off. Shelling and bombing hit the population (a war crime, by the way) leading to what must be called ethnic cleansing, forcing by now probably one million Ukrainians to leave their homes; many of them their country. Still we had no objections to this tragic part of the conflict and its perpetrators.

We see only one villain, whom we harass with defamation and sanctions: Vladimir Putin. His administration had from the beginning a reluctant attitude towards the rebels, making them disappointed by denying them open support. In our Goebbels-like propaganda, though, it’s Russia and Putin who are waging the war in Ukraine. Russian hawks naturally prevent Putin from denying the rebels at least some real help, but still probably no decisive backup that could be pictured as waging a war.

To evaluate the moral content of the Russian behavior we have to compare with our own actions in similar situations. There happens to be a case as close to equivalent as history can provide, namely Kosovo, where an Albanian minority wanted the enclave seceded from Serbia. They got western support for this action and to implement the secession US bombed Belgrade and other parts of the country for 78 days, without UN authorization, killing an estimated 3,000 people. One pretext for the bombing was Serbia’s ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Albanians, although these really started as a response to the US attacks.

Not only are we morally prevented from criticizing Russia for the secession of Crimea, since we have done exactly the same thing (at that expecting praise for it), we would neither possibly be in a position to morally condemn Putin if he got the bizarre idea to order bombing of Kiev for 78 days, as punishment for the obvious and lethal atrocities against civilians performed by Ukraine. But moral has no place in power games performed by militarily superior states. Putin cannot do the same things we have done; he has to do what we tell him.

This lack of moral principles is something that makes normal people sick, and we really don’t have to endure it. We just have to organize and overrule our governments. The problem is that power not only has the means of violence, but also has the propaganda tools that create our world view, unless we enlighten ourselves – together with others.

Ukraine’s killing by military: a reminder of Berlin 1953 – except for western reactions

Today’s horror-place is Mariupol in Ukraine where twenty “rebels” were shot dead by military countrymen. Swedish media treats this episode in a very calm and composed way so far. The casualties adds up to the other victims killed by their own people in uniform, by now exceeding the number killed in a comparable attack by military forces against a civil population, an atrocity giving rise to a completely different attention and one that we are not allowed to forget.

I’m referring to the worker’s uproar in East Germany in 1953, which we still are reminded of now and again. It started by a government proclamation that the production goal was to be raised by 10 percent without any income lift. By stepwise escalation finally some 100 thousand people gathered in Berlin for demonstrations, and by that time Soviet military were engaged. In direct confrontations 34 civilians were shot dead, with an additional 20 killed from other causes.

This terrible assault was rightly treated as an unforgivable crime. And it was naturally attributed to the regimes in Soviet and East Germany and viewed as typical for the monstrous Communists. I was just 12 years old by then but I remember the moral outrage in media against the horrible Communists. The years to come we were constantly reminded of the East German cruelties in an intense propaganda effort, to which was added the comparable atrocities performed by Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

The heated reporting in Swedish media as long as “Putin” was expected to invade Ukraine calmed down remarkably when the first civilians were killed by the military in Sloviansk, now followed by somewhat laid back commentaries on today’s horrible events.

Are there no limits on the hypocrisy of our journalist, one may really wonder?! They are in this respect not any different from the politruks in Pravda in the old days, with the exception that people in the Soviet Union didn’t trust their propagandists, while we are effectively brainwashed to believe freedom of expression to guarantee us truthful media, on the whole.

The most challenging question is why Swedish media, almost unanimously, make such efforts to instigate an atmosphere of war by vilifying Russia and Putin. And to do so by twisting every little piece of message till it points in the “right” direction. My paper lectures Putin almost daily on how to surrender his country’s interests the proper way. Russia is treated like a defeated enemy and it’s slightest claim on national interests are interpreted as aggression. The West obviously considered it completely normal that Russia’s important naval base in Crimea should be situated in a NATO-country, thus in one of the members of an organization primarily pointing its gigantic war machine against – Russia!

The lack of proposals for peaceful negotiations in our media is almost total. But as I mentioned below the one-eyed propagandists are balanced by informed readers in media’s commentary sections. This is the hope for the future.

Terribly stupid Cold War propaganda could end with terribly horrendous risks

Our public service television exerts in the same insidious propaganda on the Ukraine issue as the rest of MSM here. It works in fine-tuned details, in the careful choice of word, in subtle use of certain perspectives (though it still ends up in stupidities). Just to pick one example from yesterday: in the text-TV list of head-lines one could read: “Russia admits involvement.” Aha! Finally they confess to their responsibility for the unrest in eastern Ukraine! One looks up the article with certain anticipations – and finds something rather opposite.

The article was about the OSCE and Ukrainian hostages whom the pro-Russian activists had let free. Russia’s “involvement” had to do with the fact that a human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, had negotiated the release, together with a high western official (whose name I can’t find with a quick search now, tellingly enough). So, by performing a humane act, which no one in the west obviously had even tried, Russia admits its influence over the rebels! That’s the high level of intellect engaged in our propaganda model! Even Carl Bildt drew the same “brilliant” conclusion.

A simpler mind would have suggested that a Russian, or anybody else, just had to inform the activists that the hostage thing was very damaging to themselves and could contribute to nothing except bad PR. (So the release could possibly be viewed as a severe disappointment for warmongers of all kinds.)

To experience today’s naïve propaganda is wearying. It’s not just naïve but mostly outright silly, and epidemic at that. It’s taken as an axiom that Russia is bad and Putin a crook and hence that there is no reason to consider real facts or make any analysis. Journalists just have to construct stereotype sentences using templates from the former Cold War. And it becomes so terribly brainless.

In contrast to the original Cold War we can today enjoy reader’s comments in the newspapers web editions. Both in New York Times and in Dagens Nyheter (the Swedish NYT) those commentaries are highly informative in more than one way. Surprisingly large shares of the readers are nuanced, informed and analytic, thus critical towards the mostly propagandistic approach practiced by the journalists. These comments shed a promising light over the official propaganda machine, just as it gives hope for a more enlightened future.

This very day, May 5th, Ukraine is involving its military against its own population on a large scale. Thus the reporting here becomes more restrained (and the headline falls down in the text-TV list).  A civilized country using its military to fire live ammunition against its own population! And it seems not to be the most important issue. The focus is still on Russia, now with the question: when will they invade with troops?

What we experience is the logical outcome of a process that started with EU giving Ukraine an ultimatum to choose between Russia and itself as its future economic partner, thus more or less forcing Yanukovych to chose Russia (Putin had suggested a trilateral agreement which EU vetoed). To solely demonize Russia for this development is not just factually wrong, but worse still: leading nowhere but to horrible risks.

One horrible risk is that the point of no return is close…

First victim of Cold War is elementary brains

On this International Workers Holiday in my small town of 10 thousand people there will be a march with perhaps a dozen participants, and a speech by some local Social Democrat. It’s an old ritual carried out of habit, more or less. But the enthusiasm for May 1st has changed over the years. Some day we may have a revival of the kind we saw in the 1960s.

The daily topic in our papers is still Ukraine, or rather the dictatorial Putin with his insidious plans to revive Russian greatness from the Soviet era by enlarging his territory. No arguments are shallow or stupid enough not to find their way to the printed pages or web editions. For instance: the annexation of Crimea is equivalent to Nazi occupation of Sudetenland and must thus be rescinded to prevent Putin from conquering the rest of Europe.

The propaganda to prepare for war seems epidemic. Sweden must increase its military budget substantially, everyone here says. The Baltic States, with their Russian speaking minorities, should fear Putin’s next step. It’s naturally claimed that uprisings in eastern Ukraine are instigated by Putin, while the corresponding riots in Kiev, strongly exacerbated by pure Nazi groups (some of them wearing the armlets of a Ukrainian Nazi division serving Germany in WWII), were legitimate protests against a corrupt regime. And so on.

Let’s assume that we seriously believe Russia capable to go on willfully conquering countries. The question is then only if it’s we or Putin who suffer from insanity. One fact suffices to consider: the Russian military expenditures are a fraction of NATO’s, only some single-digit percent. If the Russian leadership was collectively suicidal, yes, then it would be plausible to expect any substantial challenge to NATO power.

We seem to be back in the old Cold War era with its nonsensical propaganda arguments. True to that tradition most manifestations of real knowledge are banned from discussion. In a small, provincial country like Sweden this reaches parodical heights. In times like these it’s a relief to have access to US media on the Internet. Due to unrivalled freedom of speech in the US we can read and listen to clever and savvy people (not always in mainstream media, but still).

One distinguished voice on Russian issues is Professor Stephen Cohen, who has spent a professional lifetime studying his subject. He is a contributor to The Nation and is often interviewed in other media. He has some important things to say.

First of all Ukraine is not one country, it’s at least two; one leaning towards the western world and one towards Russia. When EU approached Ukraine with a proposition for cooperation it was attached with an ultimatum that no agreement with Russia would be allowed. Putin on the other hand proposed a three-party settlement including EU for supporting Ukraine. Faced with the EU ultimatum Yanukovych choose an agreement with Russia, and there it all started.

In the thousand pages thick EU proposition one could read that Ukraine’s future rapprochement with EU and NATO would lie in the pipeline. This would only be in style with the continuous advancement of NATO ever closer to Russia’s borders since 1989 (in shameless violation of pledges given to Gorbachev, by the way). Ukraine as a part of NATO would have meant US control over Russia’s important naval base in Sevastopol! What did EU officials think?! Were they so presumptuous and so blinded by power that they didn’t see any problems with that?

With this background it’s practically inevitable that Russia had to annex Crimea. No other country in the same position would have acted differently (if not US had bombed Kiev). It’s a basic moral principle that we submit to ourselves the same standards we apply on others. But, of course, moral has no place in political propaganda and brain-washing.

Sweden preparing for World War III

Not least through our country’s Foreign minister Carl Bildt we have long been active in provoking tensions in Ukraine, as well as in other parts of former Soviet Union. The obvious purpose has been to expand Western power at the expense of Russian influence, under the pretext of democracy promotion. In accordance with this pretext we supported and immediately accepted the overthrow of a democratically elected president in Ukraine.

Mr. Bildt’s interest in democracy for other countries cannot possibly be much more than hypocritical demagogy. He has had a long political career during which western powers, lead by USA, have performed or supported the overthrow of not so few democratic leaders and replaced them with sometimes murderous dictators, without Bildt having any complaints. His ambition is obviously to serve as a lieutenant, loyal to the superpower (whatever reward he hopes to acquire by that).

Democracy seems to be something that hypocrites demand in enemy countries and try to circumvent at home.

A natural step in the new Cold War has been to vilify Russia and demonize Vladimir Putin, and here Bildt is accompanied by Sweden’s mainstream press and television. This process has borrowed features from fairytales for children, with their naïve black and white worldview. It has now reached a fantasy level where media and the government are preparing for the next war. Gotland, a large island in the Baltic Sea, has to be rearmed, editors scream; Sweden’s defense budget will be increased substantially, says the Prime Minister in an op-ed in the main newspaper.

We are back again to the old days when “Soviet Communism threatened to conquer the whole world”, thus providing motives to uphold a substantial military budget in Sweden. Our air force was one of the strongest in the world, and our weapons industry impressive (and still quite remarkable for a small, peaceful country). No sane person could foresee a scenario where Soviet troops actually would invade Sweden, but demagogy outplays intellectual sanity in questions like these.

To extrapolate from events in Crimea to a Russian military threat towards Sweden today is naturally even more fanciful. The best thing our government could do to preserve peace would be to order Carl Bildt to return from his never-ending flying trip, and lock him up in his Stockholm office. The next step could be to regard Russia in a realistic manner; not as a defeated enemy who has to obey orders, but as the world’s largest country with legitimate interests to safeguard its borders.

The provocations, broken promises and deceitful behavior that western powers have subjected Russia to since 1989 would not have been accepted by any other country, least of all USA. And the important question is what to be gained from this game of Russian roulette we have forced onto the world. Are there profits to be made from World War III?