Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Say Hello to the Neocon Times

The Gray Lady donned her dull, leaden body armor today for two boringly bellicose homepage articles. As her clarion call for war rings resoundingly hollow, you might call this dissonant tune Iraq Deja Vu All Over Again.

 First, the unsigned editorial, which disdains any shades of gray, leaden or otherwise, and simplistically reduces the subject to Russia Bad, USA Good. I would hazard a guess that if the editorial was not directly penned by Dick Cheney, Ronald Dumsfeld, Robert Kagan, or any of the Bushie neocons still lving and thriving on the taxpayer dime and heart, then it was written under the influence of drugs or with a weapon pointed at their sweaty typing fingers. Without one trace of shame or irony, the Times proclaims that Putin is fomenting "Soviet-style propaganda" and nobody outside Russia is buying his claims that the right wing coup in Ukraine was a right wing coup. So I guess that makes most of the reader-commenters and most of us looking outside the corporate media for our news "nobodies."

And for a lesson in how not to write pro-war propaganda to make it seem like independent journalism, be sure to read David Herszenhorn's subtly headlined "Russia Is Quick To Bend Truth About Ukraine's Political Crisis."

(If only the Times were so bold in other areas, and blared headlines like "Republicans' Criminal Lies About Climate Change" or "Obama Brags About His Drone Murders" or "United States Devolving Into Fascist Police State" then maybe I could forgive them this latest little jingoistic peccadillo.)

Herszenhorn begins thusly:
And so began another day of bluster and hyperbole, of the misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and, occasionally, outright lies about the political crisis in Ukraine that have emanated from the highest echelons of the Kremlin and reverberated on state-controlled Russian television, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.
Wow. He could have been talking about crypto-fascist CNN's shock 'n' awe Iraq War trailer, back when every American corporate hack worth his salt was clamoring to be embedded with the troops. Or when the Times falsely reported on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and thus allowed Cheney to go on TV and point to the Times as proof of same. He might even have been talking about crypto-fascist CNN's more recent warm-up acts for the pre-empted-by-Putin bombing of Syria. Or its jingoistic coverage this week of the "Boston Strong" pep rally for a proxy war (or the MIC's hoped for real war) with Russia.

To Herszenhorn's tepid credit, he does mention further down in his article that, yeah, maybe the Murkans have also been indulging in a bit of propaganda themselves. But only further down in the article:
There is no question that the new Ukrainian government and its Western allies, including the United States, have engaged in their own misinformation efforts at times, with officials in Kiev making bold pronouncements in recent days of enforcement efforts that never materialized. On Tuesday, some American officials were spreading unverified photographs allegedly showing Russian rocket launchers carried by pro-Russian demonstrators in eastern Ukraine.
I hope you didn't miss the subtlety. When the USA does propaganda, it only does it occasionally. When Russia does it, it's unrelenting torture. Those poor people apparently are never allowed to even sleep. The Times, as megaphone for the White House, wants you to know this. And such is the desperate tone in the article that the White House must surely realize that its efforts to win the hearts and minds of the public are going for naught.

The public is too weary, too broke and too cynical for any more phony patriotism. And the small segment of the public that is paying attention is hopping mad and more sympatico with our fellow victims of neoliberal austerity in Ukraine than we are with our own elected officials.

These are the neocon times that try men's souls.

If you crave honest coverage of the Ukraine situation, avoid the Times and the equally dishonest and war-mongering Washington Post. Seek out instead various European publications, such as Der Spiegel. And don't miss the latest from Polk-winning Robert Parry, who encapsulates the whole sham in as clear and cogent a way as I've yet read.


Pearl said...

Thank you Karen for a truthful column. It is amazing how ignorance of history has spewed so many NYTimes editorials, etc. which can only complicate any kind of sane activity by the U.S. regarding the Ukraine and other trouble spots. I am glad to see some excellent responses from readers to these hysterical reports. Maybe people are beginning to question the party line from the Obama administration finally.
And it is interesting how the NYtimes has so far ignored the importance of who has received the two top Pulitzer prizes and its significance. I wonder if anyone will comment on this silence before long.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Yeah, let’s go to war as if the Ukraine were, like Great Britain or Italy, a full-fledged NATO member deserving all out support in arms.

There’s a slight technicality: Ukraine is not a member of NATO. And what the hell was NATO thinking in the first place by stretching itself all the way to the Russian border with a stick on its shoulder? Arguably, Ukraine should never have been considered as a prospective NATO member.

Whatever. Print up a few million Ukranian miniflags for adoring crowds to wave as NATO troops march along the parade route to war in Eastern Europe, America in the lead.

The Grey Lady is no longer a right-minded sophisticate who occasionally gives the wrong guys a big hug. It’s clear she’ll do anything to hold her place on the flagship of American media. Problem is, the Grey Lady is the property of the money class and the neocons. It is their philosophy that charts the course, not the high principles of the “Columbia Journalism Review.”

The foreign press has become so much more important for Americans to get the full story. You don’t have to be fluent or even acquainted with French, Spanish or German to get your news from another perspective, although being bi-lingual sure is a survival tactic if you have time to learn another language. Furthermore, mental exercises like learning a new language is touted as a good way to forestall Alzheimer’s.

Good foreign press is available on line, often with English versions. Lacking an English version, you can always copy a foreign article, paste it into Google Translate, and within seconds: Voila! Mira! Siehe! A pretty damn good mechanical translation. Among the journals I would suggest from abroad: "La Jornada" and "Le Monde."

Zee said...

Under no circumstances should the United States further involve itself in what's currently going on in the Ukraine. But that's just ol' Zee speaking.

After all, America's (self) image as a nation to be respected and feared by all those other piss-ant countries is on the line. So even more bad things may well be in the offing in order to protect that image.

It seems clear that “Neo-Whatever” personalities in the U.S. State Department, and elsewhere in our halls and seats of power, egged on and even financed what became a nominally “pro-Western” Ukrainian revolution, and now, confronted with (probably unexpected) Russian intervention, it's all blowing up in their faces. Again.

As there's nothing more important to a macho, Neo-Whatever guy (or gal) than projecting strength and saving face, the obvious Neo-Whatever solution is to demand ever greater international sanctions against, and to offer ever greater provocations to, the Russians, leading first to NATO intervention and perhaps, from there...well...who knows? The mind reels at the bad possible outcomes.

But hey, isn't that better than looking like an international wimp?

Well, no, IMHO.

The United States has let a very bad genie out of the bottle, and we have no idea how to put it back.

Russian intervention in Crimea was foolish and unfortunate, IMHO. Not being a student of that part of the world or of the personalities involved, I can't say if it was at all predictable, but it has now happened. That's the problem with sticking our American nose in where it doesn't belong, à la Iraq, Afghanistan, and on down through the long list of other countries in recent history: endless, reverberating, unintended consequences.

Ukraine is now set to explode internally, irrespective of what we and the Russians do from the outside to make matters even worse:

We now have ethnic Russians, allied with Vlad the Impaler, opposed by a Ukrainian nationalist coalition, composed of “cosmopolitan, Western-oriented students” and a tri-partite group of “right wingers” consisting of:

“civilian patriots...who view it as their duty to fight for their country....revanchist anarchists who want to challenge corrupt state authorities...[and] right-wing radicals of the ideological and dangerous variety who want to take advantage of the current vacuum to rise to power themselves. T[hese last] are supporters of a totalitarian ethno-nationalism with anti-Semitic overtones.”

Even if Russia and “The West” suddenly decided to pick up their marbles and go home, can anything good come out of the mess that's left?

Once again, we—the United States—have sown the wind, and someone else will, sadly, reap the whirlwind.

annenigma said...


If you haven't already, read 'Shock Doctrine, the Rise of Disaster Capitalism' by Naomi Klein. There is plenty of money to be made from creating or precipitating chaos, disaster, and wars.

Zee said...


I've seen numerous references to Shock Doctrine in this forum, so I almost feel like I've read it, but I'll try to add it to my "to be read" bookshelf.

Lately, however, I've just been feeling so blue about both the current national and world situations that it's easier and much more pleasant to read something like House of Rain, by Craig Childs, something of a new assessment of the collapse of ancient Anasazi culture in my Southwestern neck of the woods, complete with well-grounded speculation on such pleasant topics as forced migrations, mass murder and cannibalism as both causes and outcomes of the demise of a once-significant culture. (But at least that's all in the past, so the only thing that I have to really worry about "in the reading" is to learn from historical mistakes, if that's possible.)

Besides, as with Tony Hillerman's mysteries, it's fun to read about clean, clear, high-desert places that I've actually been to and which I can visualize in peace.

What with all their masked and camo-clad soldiers and militiamen running about the Ukraine right now, it looks like a pretty dreary place to even think about.

Pearl said...

The Strangelove Effect - or How We Are Hoodwinked Into Fighting a New Cold War

Also read the numerous comments to this Pilger article.