Category Archives: USA

Circle of violence – is it eternal?

One week in 1988 I happened to be in New York. This was the year of the 350th anniversary of the first Swedish colonizers landing in Wilmington, Delaware. As part of the celebrations the Swedish Royal Couple held a luncheon in Waldorf Astoria for prominent Americans with some connections to Sweden.

By coincidence I stayed at the same hotel that day, now waiting in the lobby for a friend who had attended the Royal lunch. When the doors opened a stream of celebrities walked by, among them Henry Kissinger with a newspaper stuck under his arm. He walked in a relaxed manner straight on to Park Avenue, catching a regular yellow cab. No lifeguards, no company whatsoever.

My first reflection was how things can change in politics. Kissinger was a key player in Nixon’s administration when the tensions with Sweden were the gravest ever. Olof Palme had expressed intense critique of USA regarding the Vietnam War, and had gained support from people all around the world. Now Kissinger had become a guest of honor to a country once treated almost like an enemy.

My second reflection was naturally how this man could move around without protection; he was after all by many considered one of the most culpable war criminals alive. One could expect there to be millions of people in Indochina with a fair reason to revenge the death of innocent relatives or friends. All it would take had been for a single one of those to be on Park Avenue with a gun at the right time.

Naturally this came to mind again after 9/11. USA had challenged countries and people for decades, relying on its strength for protection. At the same time it had been an open society vulnerable for all kinds of attacks. The question was rather why it had taken so many years for an atrocity like 9/11 to happen, than why it had happened at all.

Since 2001 security has been upgraded considerably in the West, but there is no ultimate protection in societies like ours. We are reminded of this by an article in New York Times yesterday, reporting about an online threat by the Islamic State to kill 100 US service members whose names, photos and purported addresses are posted on its website. Knowing that ISIS is recruiting fighters in countries all around the world, also in the West, threats like these are obviously not to take easily.

If one wants a definition of a vicious circle it must be this: Imperialist violence created violent resistance, generating even more repressive violence, boosting more counter violence etc., on an ever growing scale. When will we ever learn that the only way to break this circle is to cut it off? And that we are the once obliged to initiate the peaceful way? (Provided the masters of mankind really want the violence stopped, which regrettably can be put in question.)

 

Not just Auschwitz but Holocaust in its entirety mainly ended by the Russians

27 January, the day in 1945 when Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz, is also instituted by the United Nations as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The fact that Vladimir Putin wasn’t invited to the 70 year commemoration of the liberation has attracted some attention, as we saw. But no greater interest in main media has been shown for the Soviet (mainly Russian) role in terminating the Nazi Holocaust altogether.

More important than discovering Auschwitz was to stop the Nazi murder machine that otherwise could have exterminated millions more. For this the Soviet Union had the overwhelmingly most important role by grinding down the up till then strongest military machinery in history, thus sacrificing around 25 million of its people, in addition to unbelievable destruction of half the country.

It would have been most appropriate to give Russia some recognition on a day like that. Not so in Sweden, although the day was commemorated with a prestigious ceremony in Stockholm’s largest synagogue in the presence of the Swedish King and Queen, the Prime minister, the US ambassador and a number of other dignitaries. Russia is expelled from the “international community” for reacting logical to a Nazi infected coup d’état in a neighboring country, while an ambassador representing a power responsible for major war crimes, the last ones most recently, is treated with outmost respect. Well, Jonathan Smith, you know how it is!

When Dagens Nyheter’s editor in chief Peter Wolodarski acknowledged this Stockholm ceremony in a lead article he did it with dedication and compassion. He described the anti-Semitism of today, and concluded: “The mechanisms of Holocaust must be recognized as latent dangers in all civilized societies. They require perpetual vigilance and resistance”. It’s all admirable, except that his statement challenges his own position on the contemporary Ukraine issue.

Wolodarski’s newspaper is blatantly propagandistic, blaming Russia for every evil event and for being the aggressor (no proof given), while keeping almost totally silent about everything that could cast a shadow on the Ukrainian actions. Among the neglected topics is the key role that Nazism plays in that country’s present and history, a main reason for the revolt in Donbas, where people know what it’s all about, many having lost parents and other relatives murdered by Nazis.

Wolodarski describes how ordinary people in the Holocaust era could be transformed into rapists and murderers, “prepared to shove the city’s Jewish citizens into a barn and set it on fire”. The military historian Anthony Beevor describes in fact this method as a Ukrainian specialty in his book on WWII, adding that Ukraine stood out as the country in which people most willingly and in largest numbers assisted the German Nazis in exterminating Jews, Communists, Poles and other unwanted creatures.

This “Ukrainian specialty” was duplicated in Odessa in 2014, where a group of pro-Russian Odessa inhabitants were captured in a building which was set on fire by pro-Nazi elements that then killed some who tried to flee. This mass murder of more than 40 people took place without DN paying any attention to the historical parallel which could be called ironic had it not been so outrageous. Instead Wolodarski naively writes about the same method of extermination months later, ignorant of its horrible implications.

Ukrainian Nazism has a long and ugly history, dating back to at least the 1930s when the so called Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) “began a campaign of assassinating and otherwise terrorizing people who didn’t agree with them”, according to Russ Bellant, interviewed in The Nation, March 2014. In his book Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party Bellant reveals astonishing facts about the collaboration between revered politicians and pure Nazi elements in USA.

At the end of WWII Eastern Europe was swarming with Nazi collaborators guilty of all kinds of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Looking forward to hard punishment by the Soviet justice system, not known for its humanity, their best option was to flee westwards, and many of them ended up in USA and Canada. There they were kindly taken care of and soon reached some prominence as anti-Soviets. Bellant deals in detail with their connections with the Republican Party and some of the Presidents from that party. His findings are too many to fit in this short blog post, but are very much worth reading (thenation.com).

My country had the “honor” of receiving a number of war criminals from the Baltic States, perpetrators guilty of killing Jews and other “unworthy” humans. They mixed with entirely decent refugees and were never hunted down by Swedish police. For this Sweden has received harsh criticism from the Simon Wiesenthal Center (so much for that civilized country).

The Ukrainian connection is interestingly reflected in a recent vote in the UN General Assembly on a resolution that condemned the glorification of Nazism, brought by Russia, undeniably in response to the raise of neofascism in Ukraine. Three countries voted against the resolution: USA, Canada and Ukraine! 155 voted for and 55 abstained, among them the European countries. A fact to consider: Israel voted for the resolution.

A column like this has no punch line, these battlefields will no doubt be revisited.

What if we tried to emulate instead of demonize Cuba?

The right-wing narrative on Cuba is so peculiarly imbecile and propagandistic that it takes properly educated intellectuals to swallow it. I mentioned a short editorial in yesterdays Dagens Nyheter, our most important paper, in which the Castro regime was described as “grotesque and disgusting”. The author claims that the Castro brothers have used the US embargo as an excuse for “tormenting their people”.

This torment must of course have been very sophisticated since it has placed Cuba at the very top, among Latin American countries, on United Nations Human Development Index list, second only to Chile. It has also given Cuba more medical doctors than any other nation in the world (6 of 1000 inhabitants), making it possible for the poor country to send 19 000 doctors and 10 000 nurses to help people in need around the globe. The Cubans, living on pennies, enjoy the same longevity as people in USA, and have a lower infant mortality. Adding also things like successful land reforms and an advanced educational system, most poor people in Latin America have a lot to envy the Cubans.

So, what torment is the author referring to? It seems first of all to be about freedom of expression, or the lack of it. “Dissidents, journalists and human rights activists are subject to harassment, random house arrests and other restrictions”, DN claims. The heart-felt concern for these indeed brave people is of course warming, especially since the traditional assassinations, which was the standard procedure for eliminating dissidents in the rest of Latin America through all the years, had left DN remarkably unconcerned. The endemic neo-Nazi and other extreme regimes on the continent were treated by DN as just some kind of quite natural disruption, nothing to lose temper about.

A childish narrative implies that the communists’ persecution and oppression of dissidents is part of their nature, and something they engage in for the pleasure of exhibiting their power, eliminating competitors, or something equally deplorable. But Stalin has been dead for 60 years, implications of which many right-wingers have difficulties accepting. Cuban leaders are in all likelihood aware of the bad PR that actions against dissidents generate in the world, and most certainly know that they would be much better off with a more lenient treatment.

To deliberately perform seemingly counterproductive actions implies some kind of necessity and coercion. I dealt in the previous Postcard with CIA’s horrible and numerous terrorist activities hitting Cuba during many decades. It’s likewise well known, and obviously trivial, that CIA has used its unlimited resources to conduct advanced espionage and unscrupulous provocations towards Cuba, using all kinds of obnoxious methods and crooked agents. No regime whatsoever could have watched these kinds of subversive activities by an enemy state without reacting. The repression in Cuba is in many ways defensive.

The Cuban situation is more revealing for us, the self-proclaimed saints of western “capitalism”, than for the island’s leadership. Living conditions when it comes to health care, education and other things we call quality of life, is arguably much better in Cuba than in many places elsewhere in the developing world. The very policies that have created these welfare conditions are the ones that right-wing westerners consider “grotesque and disgusting” and fight with utmost frenzy. We never seem to ask ourselves the simple question: Why is it that our abundantly wealthy societies have such difficulties in taking care of those who are most in need, at least in par with the poor country Cuba? We neither seem to reflect upon the quite obvious answer.

MSM: Sweden vs. USA, plus Krugman on inequality

An anecdote has it that Noam Chomsky grinds his teeth when he reads the New York Times. But he also recognizes that there is some serious and professional reporting alongside the skillful but goofy propaganda stream. One can say the same about the Swedish Dagens Nyheter, save the level of professionalism. Thus I subscribe to the NYT web edition to get a broader outlook, apart from it being somewhat less pathetically “mainstreamed” than DN.

When it comes to the selection and presentation of the kind of world news that has to be aligned in accordance with the propaganda model, the similarities between DN and NYT are striking. The material is probably molded already in news agencies, and then DN seems to snitch from NYT and others. Often the wording is identical, and certainly the bias. But there are some differences. Especially interesting is what kind of “big news” in USA that becomes “no news” in Swedish media.

To name one example: Citizens United, a central concept in US debate which is carefully kept out of media in Sweden for reasons one can only speculate on. Is it the fact that the Supreme Court’s decision is incomprehensible for most people here, who probably would compare it with codifying unlimited corruption?

Another more random example is the Cliven Bundy case, which has passed almost unnoticed here. It’s not that violence or crimes as such are censored, on the contrary. Events like school shootings and other mass murders in the US are covered intensely by media, so the difference opens the field for speculations again. Is it that crimes committed by individuals have limited implications for the society, whilst the Bundy insubordination revealed a weak public authority that opened for mafia-like actions challenging law and order (thus degrading USA)? It’s anyone’s guess.

On the Ukraine issue Swedish MSM has a completely one-eyed view applied to both commentary and news reporting alike, a view postulating that Vladimir Putin is the master villain responsible for everything horrible that happens. Thus we are not shared any inclusive reports on for instance the shelling of innocent civilians or the hardship people in Luhansk suffers, or anything else outrageous that the Ukrainian government is responsible for. In this case NYT has a more professional attitude and once in a while sends a reporter to give readers a more complete picture. (I’ve mentioned earlier one reason for this difference, namely that Russophobia, through some kind of epigenetic mechanism, seem to have become inherent in Swedish genes.)

With the morning coffee I consequently browse quickly through the DN site, continue with NYT to stop for some reading and then spend more time with The Nation and other informative links. In my opinion the prime voice of reason in NYT is Paul Krugman, an economist differing from many of his colleagues by using his brain instead of reflexively rely on dogmas from a depleted science. His progressive views are so rare in NYT that he appears to be a kind of liberal alibi for the prestigious paper.

(A cute parenthesis: for subscribers NYT has a top-10-list labeled “Recommended for you”. In analogue cases most sites has a simple plug-in that keeps track on visitor’s preferences, so that recommendations really reflect the reader’s interests. Not so the NYT; here “recommended” obviously means what the editor think I should read; hence links on that list very rarely fit my liking. But to find a link to Paul Krugman I just have to click on “Most read” or “Most emailed” instead, where Krugman’s columns regularly appear among the top hits.)

In his column today (ranked No 1 in “Most emailed”) Krugman has some really intelligent and informative commentaries on “Our Invisible Rich”. Developments have gone to such an extreme the last decades that people just can’t grasp how grotesque the inequality has become. In a recent survey people in various countries were asked how much they thought top executives of major companies make relative to unskilled workers. In the United States the median respondent believed that chief executives make about 30 times as much as their employees (which was roughly true in the 1960s) compared to the real figure which is something like 300 times more, not to mention the really lucky, like the top hedge fund managers, who pick up some 10 000 times more than an ordinary employee.

To this one may remark that neither Aristotle nor James Madison thought that such an unbelievable development would ever be possible. Both took for granted that a majority in a democracy would vote to expel inequalities of that kind, but they chose different solutions to the problem. Aristotle concluded that society had to accept equality as a basic principle, while Madison preferred democracy to be limited. One way for Madison to achieve this was to establish a senate not elected directly by voters. It turned out that Madison was too cautious; he had no clue as to what modern propaganda would be capable of in the coming centuries. Today the super rich are safer than ever from any democratic threats, though the senate nowadays is appointed directly by voters.

It’s not that people’s preferences are unknown. If they estimate the high boss’s salaries to be 30 times higher, they would prefer the difference to be considerably less. The tool to achieve that is called democratic struggle, and that is something bound to come – trough collective action.

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.

How to create a State Truth

Developments in Ukraine have driven media and majority opinion in Sweden quite nuts. Not even the traces of reason sometimes visible in New York Times can be detected here (except for dissident media outlets that no one has heard of). The Editor in Chief of our most important paper Dagens Nyheter – Peter Wolodarski – has turned into a paranoid buffoon conducting a limitless and hateful campaign against Russia and Putin.

Wolodarski and his colleagues in thought are acting as if their intention is to fire up conflicts and enhance the risk of a global war. Their simple truth is that Putin is an imperialist dictator; nothing that puts perspective on the whole Ukrainian problem is allowed to appear in print. That is: one of DN’s columnists, Johan Croneman, had the guts to curse in the church the other day, namely about the shoot-down of MH17.

Croneman had studied some of the works by Robert Parry and the Malaysian paper New Straits Times. Parry is a prize-winning reporter known for his role in revealing the Iran-Contra affair, and his webpage contains interesting information. There he describes a number of convincing indications that the shoot-down of the airliner couldn’t have been performed by the pro-Russian rebels. Foremost of those is the lack of pictures or other evidence for Russian Buk missiles transported into and out of Ukraine.

The Buk missiles are 5.5 meters long and the launch vehicles are more than double that length. Parts of the radar equipment are some 20 meters high. The whole battery demand support facilities carried by a number of large vehicles. Thus the units are easily detectable by US surveillance techniques. For the Buk system to be operative in the shoot-down it had to be transported quite some distance from Russia into Ukraine territory. And more than that: after the shoot-down, when the advanced US supervision machinery must have been intensely focused on the area, this caravan had to drive back to Russia. If US had pictures of this operation, is it conceivable that they had been kept secret to this day, Perry asks.

Other important indications are leaked testimony by independent arms experts, saying that the plane wreckage showed signs of being hit by a missile fired from an aircraft, plus bullet holes indicating machine-gun fire. The black boxes implicate another question. If they had contained evidence for the Ukrainian standpoint, wouldn’t that have been disclosed already? Now the whole question is remarkably muted.

Croneman’s observation and outrage concerns the absolute silence about these matters in Swedish media. I would add that conformity of this kind would hardly be possible even in a dictatorship. But here the political truth, declared by Carl Bildt two hours after the shoot-down, is prescribed as a state fact. Croneman sums this up as “unspeakably sad, and dangerous, and terrible”. (We have of course freedom of expression here, so Croneman isn’t fired, but he’s back writing about his ordinary topics: sports and movies.)

To recommend Wolodarski and all the other Swedes of his faith to read about the Ukraine problem in “one of the most prestigious periodicals of its kind in the world” – Foreign Affairs – would of course be presumptuous. In its Oct/Nov issue that rag publishes a comprehensive and analyzing article by John J. Mearsheimer under the rubric: “Why the Ukrainian Crisis Is the West’s Fault”.

From 1989 and on Russia was considered by the West as a defeated enemy which should accept total submission. The country itself soon became devastated and the population decimated after the capitalist remaking, and not much of a threat to anyone. Still it had to be contained, just as in the old Communist days. In violation of verbal pledges to Gorbachev NATO thus started to expand eastwards, by now having added twelve new states to its ranks. And this giant military machine has only one obvious enemy: Russia.

Mearsheimer reviews this history and its consequences, and concludes that the US and EU have one simple way to avoid every risk of an all-out war: declare (on paper this time) that Ukraine never will be a member of NATO. This trivial and rather natural solution has obviously been proposed also by people like Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former German Chancellors and others. But this is all too benevolent for Wolodarski et.al. who rather rub Putin’s face even harder into the mud.

And now for the most horrendous phase: Putin has achieved a cease fire which so far seems to work passably. He’s acting to bring some peace to the place – the son-of-a-bitch. He’s giving himself away, that imperialist dictator who’s supposed to restore the Soviet Union by violence. But just relax; Wolodarski will soon explain to us in what way Putin only tries to fool us into dangerous passivity.

Brainwashed lemmings towards the cliff?

Questions! Questions!

Are we really striving with open eyes and clear minds towards a major war in Europe? In that case, for what? Don’t we see those dead children in Gaza, with their small white faces and their mutilated bodies? Don’t we see the horror beaming from the eyes of the physically and mentally maimed small ones, many still babies? And despite that let a war in Europe come closer by each day, when we so easily could stop the march towards disaster? Are we utterly crazy?

And yes we, the so called western democracies which we think of as God’s masterpiece, indeed have the tools to change this development; first of all since we are the prime instigators of the whole mess which all started 25 years ago.

When the Soviet Union lost its power, to a large extent through popular struggle, we happily seized the opportunity by helping to break away fifteen new nations from the former super power. Then we approached those nations in attempts to bring them into our power field. (Among those Ukraine was the chief prize, according to a US official.)

For more than 40 years we had been taught that Soviet Communism, with its ambition to conquer the world, was the prime rot that had to be destroyed at any price. NATO was formed for this sole purpose, it was said. Well, the dreadful Soviet Communism disappeared overnight, and thereby the Warsaw Pact, but nothing logical followed. Instead NATO grew and expanded. We had been lied to, obviously.

It turned out that no one really had imagined the Soviet Union capable of conquering anything. The actual enemy was in fact all kinds of egalitarian politics, which threatened to distribute other countries’ assets to their own populations, instead of deliver them to their rightful owners, namely us.

Now we had a crippled Russia which first of all had to be purged from any trace of egalitarian delusion. A handful of US experts in that field (and a Swedish one) helped Yeltsin and Gaidar to give the country’s valuable assets away to a bunch of oligarchs, then force a steamroller over the Russian industry, totally crushing half of it, and in the process drive ten million people into death. It all seemed to run smoothly.

But then came Vladimir Putin and destroyed most of the joy. He reclaimed some of the nation’s wealth from the thieves, restored the public finances so that doctors and teachers who had been working for months and years without salary could be paid. In the process he also put an end to the genocide of the 1990s. Since then Putin naturally has been reelected with large majorities for 14 years in a row.

This was of course too much for us to chew. In our eyes Putin became the villain of the world, and Russia took over the Soviet role as enemy no. 1. That’s when we started to strike our claws into Ukraine in a rather aggressive way, totally neglecting the old ties between that country and Russia, and disregarding the Russian wishes not to have its prime enemy close to its borders.

During this conflict western moral has deteriorated severely. We have openly cooperated with pure Nazis and spread Ukrainian demagogy, disinformation and the silliest propaganda. We have swallowed the almost Goebbels-like claims that Ukrainian authority’s murdering of their own citizens, women and children, must be blamed on Putin. Not a single moral principle we apply on others (for instance Assad) is applied on the Ukrainian government, which apparently is engaged in ethnic cleansing, as hundreds of thousands of Donbas citizens are fleeing for their lives, many of them to Russia.

This absolutely uncritical and apologetic attitude towards the Ukrainian strongmen is our contribution to enhancing the risk of a war in Europe. We put all demands for restraints on Russia; they must not just obey our orders, they must be deprived every right to national security, and their natural interests must be neglected.

There are “doves” like Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski who recommend US and EU to guarantee Russia that Ukraine never will join NATO. That should be considered a minor concession from the West, but certainly a major contribution to detente. The fact that not even these two older statesmen make any impression on the Obama administration raises doubts about US intentions. Is a dangerous war in Europe a realistic option for this administration?

The first Tiananmen happened in South Korea, and is completely out of history

These days we may solemnize the memory of the dead in a massacre on students and other young people who had gathered in thousands to demonstrate for democracy and freedom in a harsh dictatorship. To crush this demonstration the authorities called in military troops, which carried out their orders with brute violence, killing hundreds of young people who just fought for their human rights.

The official death toll is said to be around 200, while other observers have it to be upwards of 2,000. One prominent leader behind the uproar was caught and sentenced to death. Other participants were hunted for years and had to live as outlaws hidden from attention. A remarkable novel was written describing the life in a police state for hunted students.

I’m not referring to June 4, 1989 and Tiananmen Square, but to May 18, 1980 and Gwangju in South Korea, both horrible atrocities with remarkable similarities, and with a single even more remarkable divergence. What differs between them is of course that the Chinese slaughter is well known and one we can read about everywhere these days. The South Korean counterpart is probably completely forgotten if it even was noticed at all in the West when it occurred.

In 1980 the South Korean butcher in charge was Chun Doo-hwan who had seized power through a military coup the year before. The politician who received a death sentence was Kim Dae-jung, though saved due to international pressure and allowed to leave for the US in 1982. When South Korea eventually became a democratic state Chun in turn was sentenced to death for his liquidations of adversaries. This was in 1996 and now Kim Dae-jung was the one who saved his old enemy from death. Chun is still alive, but Kim regrettably dead.

The author I mentioned is Hwang Sok-yong, and his novel The Old Garden. Hwang was imprisoned the first time in 1964 for political reasons, and then again in 1989 for visiting a writer’s conference in North Korea. He served five years of his seven years sentence when he was pardoned by the newly elected president Kim Dae-jung.

Our main daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, provides subscriber access to its archive ten years back. The keyword “Tiananmen Square” (“Himmelska fridens torg” in Swedish) results in 350 hits in that archive, all of them certainly about the 1989 massacre. “Gwangju” (“Kwangju” in Sw.) provides only one hit, and that’s an illuminating hit in itself. The city is mentioned in passing in a recent article about the current president Park Geun-hye, daughter of another dictator and butcher, Park Chung-hee. Obviously the journalist was ignorant of the importance of the conservative president holding a speech in Gwangju, something of highest significance for South Koreans.

Instrumental to silencing of the massacre in western media may have been the US involvement, not just in its strong support for the dictator Chun, but also allegedly in directly authorizing deployment of Korean troops in the operations.

Though Gwangju is the incident totally forgotten or even non-existent in our world, it’s not uncommon to describe Tiananmen as the concealed occurrence. Yesterday DN had an article written by an expert on China, under the headline “Here’s why the world chose to forget the victims in Beijing”. As from mind reading New York Times today has an op-ed entitled “Tiananmen, Forgotten”. If DN’s reminding us about the Chinese massacre almost once a week during the last decade is the same as “forget”, there’s obviously call for a redefinition of the word.

For all reasons it’s only natural that our propagandistic media has concealed the Gwangju massacre. In South Korea, on the other hand, the incident played a pivotal role for a development which eventually transformed the country into a democratic state. Thus May 18 now has been declared an official memorial day and annual ceremonies are held on this day at the Mangwol-dong cemetery in Gwangju, where victim’s bodies were buried. In 2011 UNESCO included the uprising in Gwangju in the World Memory Register (something for DN and others to remember).

It’s a good thing that we keep the atrocities on Tiananmen Square in memory, and act in every way we can to prevent similar horrors to happen in the future. But it’s a shame that we for political reasons conceal factually identical, but with proportionate measurements vastly more horrendous mass killings in the smaller country South Korea.

The stupefying partisanship that our media excels in eliminates every trace of credibility for them as judges of world events. Still they act as if they were the only reliable judges on all issues in the world. Breathtaking!

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?