Like many of you, I'm confused about the situation in Ukraine. Who and what to believe? Oligarch A, Factotum B, Pundit C, or Politician D? After immediately scratching all the bloviators appearing on the corporate-sponsored Sunday shows, I turned to the Paper of Record for some much-needed insight. Here's Peter Baker keeping us informed with today's headline about Obama the bronco-buster trying to break Vlad the Stallion:
Pressure Rising as Obama Works to Rein In Russia (accompanied by the standard artistic photos capturing the dark night of the soul that only a man shouldering the full weight of American exceptionalism can ever hope to fully comprehend and stoically endure.)
Working the telephone from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama rallied allies, agreed to send Secretary of State John Kerry to Kiev and approved a series of diplomatic and economic moves intended to “make it hurt,” as one administration official put it. But the president found himself besieged by advice to take more assertive action.(You may now imagine John Kerry triumphantly marching through the gates of Kiev, whip in hand, with this optional musical accompaniment, courtesy of Modest Mussorgsky). Baker continues:
“Create a democratic noose around Putin’s Russia,” urged Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “Revisit the missile defense shield,” suggested Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida. “Cancel Sochi,” argued Representative Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who leads the Intelligence Committee, referring to the Group of 8 summit meeting to be hosted by President Vladimir V. Putin. Kick “him out of the G-8” altogether, said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip.What reportage! Baker watched the TV bloviators so we wouldn't have to, and dutifully stenographed every precious little bellicose word, never once stopping to question their tenuous at best grip on reality. Inquiring minds want to know in vain: can one buy a democratic noose on eBay? Where does one go to pay a call on the Missile Defense Shield? Is Dick Durbin the scold that Kerry is bringing with him to Kiev?
The Russian occupation of Crimea has challenged Mr. Obama as has no other international crisis, and at its heart, the advice seemed to pose the same question: Is Mr. Obama tough enough to take on the former K.G.B. colonel in the Kremlin? It is no easy task. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.Oh God. Answering the questions of the aforementioned pols, Baker pretends to cast doubt on Obama's testosterone level. But wait -- some higher-up (probably Obama) leaked to Peter Baker that Angela Merkel confidentially told Obama that not only has Putin lost his grip on reality, he's living in outer space. This is what authoritarian-controlled media outlets do when their handlers are caught in a bind. They cast doubt on the mental health of the enemy, and the machismo and competence of the "good guy" survives. Nobody can fight a lunatic, after all.
That makes for a crisis significantly different from others on Mr. Obama’s watch. On Syria, Iran, Libya and Egypt, the political factions in Washington have been as torn as the president over the proper balance of firmness and flexibility. But as an old nuclear-armed adversary returns to Cold War form, the consequences seem greater, the challenges more daunting and the voices more unified.Two choices, and they're both as sexy as hell. Firmness is the opposite of flexibility in this particular framing, and they're both ego-savers. In another world, outside the propaganda orbit of the Times-White House solar system, the opposite of firmness might be a limp noodle. But that contrast is not allowed in the official narrative as dictated to Peter Baker.
This is the New York Times at its most pandering, obfuscatingly disgraceful worst.What we're subjected to is an unintentional parody of House of Cards, itself a satire of Washington group-think and self-serving malfeasance and media complicity.
I've done as much reading as I can on the Ukraine situation, and so far, nothing beats the journalism of Pulitzer-winner Robert Parry for background, clarity and analysis. (His independent site, Consortiumnews, is now listed on my blog roll.) His take: our foreign policy is still largely run by Bush-era neocons, held over for whatever baffling reason by President Obama. He should have purged f-bombing Evil-Eyed Cookie Lady Victoria Nuland while he still had the chance. A little late now, says Parry.
Moon of Alabama and Counterpunch, also on the Blog Roll, are two more must go-to sources for a wealth of opinions and cogent analyses.
Back to reading now, and trying to stay informed to keep you informed.