Category Archives: Dagens Nyheter

Western disinformation about disinformation

MSB – the Swedish mini-equivalent of Homeland Security – today came up with an additional reason for its existence: the importance to counter the “large increase of disinformation from Russia and ISIS”. Someone in that bureaucracy has discovered social media and found a lot of trolls out there. Surely they have also read about the Russian “troll-factory” in St. Petersburg. (One day they may perhaps find out that there are numerous trolls, fanatics and lunatics from millions of sources on the web, not just from Russia.)

One particularly dear example of disinformation is an allegedly fake letter from the Swedish Defense Minister regarding a weapons deal by which a Swedish company were to sell an artillery system to Ukraine. The letter circulated on Twitter and elsewhere and was said to emanate from Russia (no specific evidence attached).

If this was a deliberate disinformation operation the subject seems a little odd. To sell weapons to Ukraine is not a violation of any international law, it just doesn’t comply with a domestic Swedish policy principle not to sell weapons to countries in war (a principle not followed very meticulously in the past). One could certainly think of much more harmful subjects for anyone taking the trouble of faking a letter with the Ministry’s original letterhead and a copied signature…

Anyway, blaming Russia for offensive web activities seems to be a universal key for many who need to escape embarrassing situations, the DNC emails being the most recent case. Instead of apologizing to Bernie Sanders for its indecent and unethical actions against his campaign, DNC rushed to blame the incriminating leaks on Russia. The same procedure was of course practiced for the awkward Clinton emails.

Our most important newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, has extended their disinformation charges against Russia to also include, among others, RT (formerly Russia Today), the most viewed TV news channel on YouTube. The tactics used for this purpose is for instance to list some of the craziest stuff found on the web, and then mention RT, Sputnik News or other Russian sources in the same context, insinuating that these news outlets have something to do with the worst lunatics. That’s the kind of disinformation that self-righteous western media can indulge in without even scenting the self-contradiction.

As millions of viewers have decided by “voting”, RT is an interesting news channel, notably for presenting news and videos that never appear in the remarkably unidirectional western media outlets, which sometimes looks as if they are printed in the same machine or produced in the same studio.

It appears as if the western business run societies feel some kind of need to bid up the conflict level against Russia. Is war the aim? In that case the well-dressed western decision-makers are worse than the worst lunatic trolls on the web.

Cultural mathematics – and other inadequate thinking

A couple of days ago the head of the editorial office for culture and arts in our prestigious paper Dagens Nyheter, Bjorn Wiman, drew attention to Russian journalists who suffer violence and murder. The column focused on the atrocities directed towards women, but the author made one small miscalculation. He claimed as a fact that “female journalists are particularly vulnerable to repression against independent media in Russia”.

As proof of this statement he pointed to a survey showing that female journalists have to endure threats and hatred on the Internet three times more often than their male colleagues. But in the next sentence he wrote that women constitute 80 percent of the journalists in Russia. In other words: if the attacks were distributed regardless of gender, one would expect women to be four times more affected than men, not just three times. Bottom line: male journalists are particularly vulnerable to repression in Russia.

Apart from this mishap in the text, it’s an important topic. There are way too many journalists murdered in Russia, and way too few attempts by western media to investigate and understand these deplorable events. One can’t avoid the suspicion that this obscurantism is intentional, opening for readers to intuitively believe that Putin lies behind it, after all.

When the almost daily mass shootings occur in the US, media is not just interested in the misdeed itself but also in the perpetrator’s background and motives. But when Russian criminals are brought to trial for murdering journalists, the western interest for them is low. The court proceedings are usually open to journalists, but anything substantial is seldom reported. It’s as if we want people to think that every such event is a show trial serving to send some scapegoats to prison to protect the real culprits higher up (accusations never accompanied by any evidence).

Anna Politkovskaya was murdered ten years ago. She had been very critical towards Putin over the war in Chechnya, and – ergo – Putin gave the orders for her assassination! That seems to be a widespread opinion in western circles. And yes, if Putin wanted to hurt himself to the maximum, that would be plausible. It suffices to see the damage done to Russia by this murder as it is. The Russian justice system, on the other hand, seems to have evidence that a Russian oligarch – Boris Berezovsky – hostile to Putin and living abroad, instigated the murder of Politkovskaya, which at least appeals to elementary common sense.

The most recent high-profile murder was that of Boris Nemtsov. Here the distinguished Dagens Nyheter openly speculated that Putin was responsible, and if that by any chance couldn’t be proved, still “his name will forever be tied to this murder”. This is our elevated defamation activities in action! The premise for that view – that Putin is stupid beyond the comprehensible – is something our propagandist perhaps are too stupid themselves to grasp (or more sinister: they expect their readers to be).

Looking for motives to murder Russian journalists one can’t avoid thinking about false flag operations. But there are evidently terrorists and loose cannons, with or without Chechnyan connection, enough to cause all kinds of problems. We don’t know very much about these subjects here, and it would call for some investigative journalism, had our media not been so definitely restricted to dumb propaganda whenever it comes to Russia.

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.

Olof Palme murdered on this day 30 years ago

In the early 1980’s, on a holiday trip to Crete in the Mediterranean Sea, I happened to visit a remote village where I passed a small shop selling Greek sandals. The shop-keeper asked if I were a Swedish tourist. When I admitted to that he became exhilarated and urged me to enter his shop. There he pointed joyfully at an enlarged photo in a frame on the wall.

The picture showed him and his wife, together with the former (and later upcoming) Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and his wife Lisbeth outside his shop. My first thought was that the man was lucky I wasn’t from Swedish upper classes or reactionary circles, in which case he had run the risk of getting a bucket of cold water poured over him. The second thought was: how many foreign politicians would have been recognized at all in a small Cretan village by an ordinary Greek?

Today 30 years have passed since Olof Palme was shot point-blank on a street a late evening in a winter-cold Stockholm, when he was walking home with his wife after watching a movie (and giving his bodyguards the evening off). Nobody has been found guilty of the murder.

On the occasion of this commemoration our print media, which is predominantly corporate owned, have dutifully and critically evaluated Palme’s person and politics. Parts of his many important contributions, which they almost mandatory omits, are the ones on the international arena. It’s easy to understand this omission since he in that context appears as the compassionate politician and moral role model he indeed was.

A reader of ordinary Swedish papers must in fact have difficulties understanding how Palme at all reached his international fame; what made cities around the world name streets after him and a low-educated Greek take a selfie with him. Our well behaved journalists have not been keen to report how Palme reached this status by actively standing on the side of the poor, of the oppressed, of people fighting for their freedom and independence, of people suffering under communist dictatorship; in short by being a true progressive in word and deed.

Olof Palme’s harsh opposition to the U.S. wars in Indochina is both admired and infamous and lead to a unique breaking of diplomatic relations between our countries. Sweden opened its borders to young Americans who hated those wars and couldn’t dream of participating in them. We protected those men in blatant conflict with the superpower (something we nowadays cannot promise a freedom-of- speech-hero such as Julian Assange).

Palme also made sure that his government took a clear stand against the fascist generals in Chile after the violent coup in 1973. Progressive Chileans who were threatened to be cut to pieces or thrown off a helicopter had to flee, and many of them were sheltered in Palme’s country. (Some years ago when I had an assignment as consultant at the Volvo plant in Goteborg I met a blue-collar worker who presented himself with the surname “Jara”. I curiously asked him, and it turned out that he was a nephew of the famous musician and singer Victor Jara who was mutilated and murdered by the Chilean fascists.)

Another major human rights achievement in Palme’s time (also annoying the super power) was the strong support for the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Quite large amounts of money were sent to ANC in comprehensive undercover operations monitored by a special female agent at the Swedish Embassy. The support was substantial, and Nelson Mandela chose Sweden as the first country to visit after he was elected president. (On the other hand Mandela was on the U.S. terrorist list until a few years before his death.)

Sweden had since the 1960s supported liberation movements also in Namibia, Rhodesia, Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, continuing under Palme, who also strongly acted against the dictatorships in Spain and Greece. Worth to mention is his deep criticism of Soviet atrocities, for example those in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

There is a lot more to say about Palme’s contributions, such as his struggle for a world free of nuclear weapons, his support for Palestine, his participation in peace negotiations and on and on. He was industrious and energetic, also on the domestic field. I’ll spare the reader details on that front, other than to say that fundamental and vastly important building blocks in the Swedish welfare construction, still very much in place, were realized on his watch.

Then, what do we learn from our mainstream media in connection with this day of sadness, when we commemorate the death of a political giant and a profoundly compassionate individual? Well, our main paper – Dagens Nyheter – had a lead article by the editorial board last Friday, supposedly issuing its principled view on Olof Palme. And what did we read there?

First of all, not a word on Palme’s real achievements, only about his “unreasonably aggressive” style in debates, his “poisonous rhetoric remarks”, his ability to “arouse strong feelings”, to “inspire people – or drive them insane”, and other profound editorial insights of the same sort. This was perhaps to be swallowed, were it not for two reasons.

One: These remarks, obviously not intended to embellish Palme’s memory, have been perpetually reiterated ad infinutum through the years by our corporate media (covering 80 percent of the printed media). There is hardly a new word in this DN editorial, its main theme has been printed innumerable times and the readers know it by heart.

The second reason would have been that even an enemy is expected to show some respect on a day of mourning. But such attitudes of decency are not required in the case of Olof Palme.

There is one more thing to mention about Palme, something that distinguishes him from every other person in his country. No one has been so openly and shamelessly persecuted, vilified and despised – ever. The most horrible rumors were spread: Palme was mentally ill, he was a drug addict, a KGB agent and whatever.

There were no limits to the stupidities, and they were spread even by the upper classes in Stockholm’s finest quarters and treated by these “sophisticated” people as pure truths. Internet was hardly invented, but the hate speech appeared openly in most media. Most photos of Palme showed him from an unfavorable angel and with a distorted look in his face. Not to speak of the cartoons which often looked like something taken from Der Stürmer, like this one (The text says: “Moscow’s parrot is silenced”):

Palme karikatyr

The day after the murder the Swedish people suddenly got to see some normal portraits of Palme in their papers, such as the one below, and probably hardly recognized him.

Palme 2016

All of this is nothing to be surprised about. It’s just the class war in which the ruling classes are merciless, and for the moment have the upper hand (and have had so for the last 30-40 years). We just have to keep on struggling, and in that we may look to Olof Palme and many others for inspiration.

Sweden to join NATO? Time going backwards?

I served for a few years in the Swedish military as a reserve officer during the darkest period of the first Cold War. In those days the Soviet Union was regarded as absolute evil and a threat to everything human and benign on earth. The Swedish defense was focused entirely on a WWII-style Soviet invasion, albeit under a thin veil of neutrality. I learned then that a few odd and intelligent professional officers were skeptical towards the whole scenario, believing that the Soviets had neither the interest nor the capability of invading our country.

The Soviet threat was used by western powers as a political means to push through excessive military spending and to create NATO as a “protection”. Being the leading western force the United States waged numerous illegal and immoral wars with the Soviet threat as a pretext. Then the Wall fell, the Evil Empire collapsed – and the scam was disclosed. NATO was not to be dismantled; it expanded, meaning that Soviet communism had not been the menace. New fanciful pretexts for keeping NATO alive had to be concocted (such as protection against “the technological sophistication of third world countries”).

For ten years during the 1990s, Russia was demolished while NATO crept ever closer to its borders. With a toothless Russian bear it became increasingly difficult to market the need for NATO and to motivate extravagant military budgets in many countries. Then, as a gift from heaven, came Vladimir Putin who threw a spanner into the works of robber capitalism in Russia. There was a man to target! He made the government reclaim some of the country’s riches that unscrupulous oligarchs had stolen (how dared he!). Eventually Russia reacted forcefully to a western induced (and long prepared) coup d’état in Kiev and the Cold War II was a fact, by good luck for lovers of western militancy.

It has now come to a point where right-wing pundits here advocate for Sweden to join NATO. An editorial in our foremost MSM – Dagens Nyheter – the other day is archetypal for the arguments. It’s first of all held as self-evident that Russia is the only power we have to defend ourselves against, despite historical experiences that point in other directions. The most serious diplomatic conflict Sweden has had with any of the great powers had to do with our government’s strong opposition to the Vietnam War, culminating in the US government recalling its Ambassador to Sweden. Our disputes with Russia have been more numerous, but have not reached that high level.

DN describes NATO as “the only organization that exists for firm protection of democracy and freedom”, which is true – with our definitions. “Democratic” in the western sense is an attribute attached to regimes we approve of. Russia is thus not a democracy, regardless of how well monitored their elections are. But since NATO through the years has been characterized by its “firm protection” of a large number of murderous and dictatorial monsters, there is not much real substance in DN’s apology at all.

“Freedom” as we see it does apparently not include freedom for peaceful civilians from being murdered by bombs and grenades. NATO countries (in different clusters) have been waging almost continuous wars of aggression since the organization was established. Their latest achievements have set the entire Middle East on fire, with consequences that really poses severe danger to our countries. NATO, with its expansionism and its members’ military aggression, is far from a defense alliance. It’s an offensive organization that poses an imminent threat, not just to its own members but to world peace.

Alternatives for Sweden? Well, why not seek a non-violent partnership with China, who is demonstrating to the world that peaceful cooperation is the road to prosperity, and that war is counterproductive in all its aspects.

Sweden joining NATO? More fuel on the fire?

The Ukrainian conflict has given the Swedish reactionaries a God-send opportunity to revive the dear old Cold War, demand more money to the military and insist on Sweden joining NATO. Russia has finally become a threat to our existence again; we’re back in the good old days! Never mind that Russia hasn’t the conventional military resources necessary to harm Sweden in any way and of course nor the slightest intention or motivation to do so. It doesn’t even want any part of Ukraine (except the thoroughly Russian Crimea, where a large military base threatened to be captured by NATO).

There is still a slight majority of Swedes not wanting a NATO membership, but the propaganda machinery works on all cylinders to change that. After a public debate recently on the subject one propagandist (in Dagens Nyheter) dismissed his opponents with the ironic sentence: “There is obviously a kinder universe where there is no need for NATO. I wish I had a visa that allowed me in there”.

That self-delusion is breath-taking; most universes must be kinder than NATO’s, as we learn from scanning just briefly over the records achieved by this military alliance. During its relatively short existence one or more members of this organization has accomplished a number of things, such as:

  • waging numerous illegal, immoral and horrible wars with millions of innocent people killed
  • overthrowing a large number of democratically elected governments, usually because they wanted to implement some social reforms to help ordinary people and the poor
  • replacing these overthrown governments with dictators, often military ones, sometimes of more or less Nazi character
  • supporting other dictators economically, militarily and politically – as long as they obeyed orders, not bothering if they tortured and harassed their populations
  • subjecting a country like Cuba to more terrorist attacks than any other country has suffered
  • training and equipping death squads in vassal states to kill politicians, union leaders, priests and anyone else with the wrong kind of ideas

Let’s save some space and halt there. If this happens to be the flip side of the coin, what about the positive achievements by NATO that this journalist considered self-evident?

We learned already in school that NATO was established to counter the “Soviet empire” and its ambition to conquer the whole world. We have had some scholars trawling through Lenin’s voluminous writings to find a sentence revealing the Communist goal of spreading over the entire globe. (There was of course no need to distinguish between Soviet foreign policy and Lenin’s speculations in the philosophy of history.)

“The Russians are coming!” vindicated all the horrible actions that NATO countries undertook. The fact that the Russian crimes against other nations, at least before the attack on Afghanistan, were completely insignificant compared to NATO’s was easily concealed.

During the first Cold War every sane person realized that the Soviet Union had no interest whatsoever to move beyond the borders of the Warsaw Pact, and no capability to do so. The threat faced by the whole world was that of nuclear obliteration, a horror that sooner was enhanced by NATO expanding its power. That “the Russians are coming” was a fake pretext for the existence of NATO was bluntly revealed by its own leaders when the Soviet Union disappeared. Instead of then dissolving NATO, it was enlarged and expanded!

NATO-countries once created the mujaheddin that later procreated into even tougher Muslim groups who like Frankenstein’s monster turned against their creators. Then with a couple of meticulously brainless wars the whole Middle East was set on fire and we got the ultimate terrorists, IS (and subsequently today’s flood of refugees over Europe).

For every terrorist killed ten more are enrolled, nowadays from every corner of the world. It means that there is no permanent solution to the problems to be achieved by violent means (Russia is wrong there too). A giant reconciliation is the only way out. The way to get there is nowhere in sight today. Probably we will have to await a totally intolerable situation before anything can turn around. But the human capability to use the brain has historically achieved the most unbelievable things, and everything is possible!

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.)

My collected reader’s comments to NYT articles

Follows a collection of commentaries I’ve made in the New York Times Reader’s Comments section on different articles (mostly for me keeping track of them myself). They’ll be accessible as long as NYT keeps the links alive, I suppose.

31 January 2015. A comment on the vaccine debate that followed the recent outbreak of measles in U.S.:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/as-measles-spreads-in-us-so-does-anxiety.html?comments#permid=13989276
-.-.-.-

25 March 2015. On signs of increasing poverty albeit growing wealth in the society (Sweden) as a whole:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/25/opinion/how-poor-are-the-poor.html?comments#permid=14521337
-.-.-.-

30 March 2015. On the horrific number of deaths in China during the Mao era, which we constantly are reminded of, compared to the even larger mortality caused by capitalism in India – which we very seldom hear of:

http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/cambodian-historians-call-for-china-to-confront-its-own-past/?comments#permid=14562852:14581199
-.-.-.-

3 April 2015. Another complete imbalance in our fields of interest: our laser-like scrutiny of terrorism carried out by others, compared to the forbearance with our own, much graver and deadlier terrorist activities:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/03/world/africa/garissa-university-college-shooting-in-kenya.html?comments#permid=14598017:14604023
-.-.-.-

9 May 2015. This article appeared simultaneously in NYT and Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), not surprisingly. It’s that kind of text our propaganda model loves: a Russian author who more or less regrets that his country defeated Nazi Germany in WWII. He just thinks that one oppression was replaces by another, obviously unaware of the Nazi’s Generalplan Ost which aimed at exterminating most people in Russia and enslaving the rest. This was not some high-flying Nazi plan or empty threat, it was implemented from day one of the German invasion. The existence of the special Sonderkommando with the explicit task to exterminate Jews, Communists and other unwanted humans was the terrible evidence of that reality.

One could have hoped that NYT and DN had been kind enough to save the poor ignorant (or just propagandistic) author from his embarrassment, but the temptation to publish his sentimental excesses was maybe to overwhelming. As some Readers’ Comments point out, the article was also a slap in the face on Putin and Russia, on the very day, sacred for Russians, of commemorating the death of 27 million people which Russia had to sacrifice to defeat the most atrocious and inhuman ideology in all history: Nazism.

An interesting difference: Dagens Nyheter didn’t open its comment section on this article, as opposed to New York Times. This is one reflection on the difference in effective freedom of expression which is taken much more seriously in the U.S. than in Europe. My comment, like some other critical ones, was listed as “NYT Pick” by the editor, another sign of openness for critique. But on the other hand: the propaganda gain was taken home by the printed article. (I suppose that the reader’s comments are mostly read by the commentators themselves.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/09/opinion/mikhail-shishkin-how-russians-lost-the-war.html?comments#permid=14915384
-.-.-.-

11 May 2015. A comment on one of Paul Krugman’s many enlightened columns in NYT.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/11/opinion/paul-krugman-wall-street-vampires.html#permid=14932711
-.-.-

17 May 2015. An article on the prospects for western economy after the last collapse, with discussions about singularities, neglecting the overall picture.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/upshot/dont-be-so-sure-the-economy-will-return-to-normal.html?comments#permid=14975427