Category Archives: Moral

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”.

 

 

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.

When will we learn that war is complete idiocy?

“When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?…”

129 brutally killed in Paris: western media on fire. 43 brutally killed in Lebanon: the usual short notices in our media. 1,000,000 killed in Iraq: the root of the evil seldom mentioned.

Bernie Sanders cursed in church during Saturday’s Democratic candidate debate by saying that ISIS was created by the Iraq war, although it should be self-evident for anyone with an IQ above 30. It means that only top level reactionary pundits, journalists and politicians can ignore such a clear fact. Sanders’ outspoken view on this topic may very well be what disqualifies him as a candidate for the Democrats (if not all his other less housetrained opinions do). Implicitly he says that the Paris massacres can be put on Bush’s and Blair’s account (as war criminals).

When will we learn? For 500 years European powers have sought to subdue the entire world with military power. Initially these immoralities may have had some profitable effect for Europe. Assets of all kinds – technology, raw materials, slaves – could be stolen and enrich the masters of the world. At the same time the subdued countries could be withheld, their often superior products banned from competition by trade barriers and their own cultures undermined from within.

If this immoral behavior once could be said to work – for us – that is since long not true. The conquered colonies back then had no weapons that matched ours, which was the decisive factor, but that’s not how it works today. We can no longer intimidate people with threat and use of violence: they can hit back in all kinds of ways, and they do. If we don’t rise above this imperialist thinking once and for all, we can look forward to perpetual massacres from all sides: a mutual suicide and destruction that will end our era as masters of the world.

As we are pathologically fixated on killing as a means to achieve power, a country such as China is conquering the world behind our backs with peaceful and constructive methods, such as trade deals and all kinds of contribution to development, not least important infrastructure projects.

The Chinese cannot be intimidated. Their prime principle of foreign policy is non-interference in other countries internal affairs. When the West someday reaches the same level of political maturity, war will become a rarity.

Until then we have to sit with jaws dropped and watch our profit fixated business leaders and their bought politicians handle a dysfunctional economic system which funnels obscene wealth to a few at the expense of the majority and their need of fair living conditions and a decent society.

Swedes pinpoint targets for drone attacks

The other day our media revealed a disturbing story from Afghanistan. Swedish military officers were said to be present in an operations center where targets for drone bombings were chosen. The officers allegedly took part in a “voting procedure” in which drone victims were selected. The story was (naturally) denied by the Defense department, and media cooperated by quickly dropping further inquiries.

Swedes in general are probably not aware that they live in a belligerent nation. We are at war for the first time in 200 years, and few people really care at all, if they even know. When Sweden offered its services to the United States after the violent retaliation following 9/11, which happened to hit the innocent Afghan people, it was assigned a relatively quiet area to the north of Afghanistan (the “peace-loving Swedes” were probably shown special consideration).

A lot of people here most likely think that we are engaged in some kind of peace-keeping operation under UN auspices, like the many in Africa and elsewhere we have been engaged in through the years. But this is real war. We are in Afghanistan as combatants, and our troops have suffered casualties. It’s not a game.

Different terrorist groups have mentioned Sweden as a possible object for attacks, motivated by our participation in the war. Apart from that we are subject to the laws of war, which means that Afghan troops are allowed to hit military targets on our soil. The government, for instance, as the highest responsible body for the war efforts, must be considered a legitimate military target.

Thus if an Afghan combatant trigger a bomb in the government’s meeting room during its regular Thursday session, blowing up the Prime Minister and his entire cabinet, it must be seen as a military operation. If captured the Afghan cannot be hurt or even interrogated. According to the laws of war he may reveal his name and rank, nothing else, and must be protected as a prisoner of war. Well none of these events are very probable (least of all the POW treatment).

We are so utterly pathetic in our naïve sense of superiority and our despicable self-adulation. We can’t even imagine that these poor people we are waging a war at should have even the slightest right to direct weapons at us as we do at them. And if it would enter our minds that they have some right, we feel entirely safe in the conviction that they have no means of really harming us.

We in the western world use all kinds of prestige words when we describe our ethics on the global scene: democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, etc. Yet our rotten moral can be unmasked by a ten year old.