Aprés la deluge — wracking up the fear quotient By William Bowles

20 August 2008

Russia is following a course “horrifyingly similar to that taken by Stalin and Hitler in the 1930s.” — Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s former national security adviser

The other night I went to a meeting on the situation in Georgia organized by the Stop the War Coalition at which one of the speakers was Boris Kargalitsky, a Russian leftie of long-standing, who made some interesting observations on the Russian government’s actions and reactions to the Georgian attack on Southern Ossetia. There are two, if not three, distinct stories to tell about the events that unfolded from 7 August. On the one hand there is the central role played by the US in orchestrating the attack and subsequent destabilization of the situation in the Caucasus, a part of the US strategy of “full spectrum dominance” of key resources and regions around the planet. And on the other there is the Russian response to ‘Darth Vader’ directly inserting itself into Russia’s backyard via its proxy, Georgia.  Thirdly, there is the role played by the Western media in orchestrating the events for public consumption, a campaign that tapped into generations of anti-Soviet, anti-Russion propaganda, utilizing all the usual stereotypes; the ‘Russian bear’, Russian expansionism, all of it dosed with the predictable racist sub-text.

“Neoconservative commentator Robert Kagan compared the Russian attack on Georgia with the Nazi grab of the Sudetenland in 1938.”

Predictable neo-Cold War rhetoric no doubt from the neo-con camp and largely meaningless but it does reveal just how surprised the US was by the Russian response. After all, Russia is seen as a has-been, dependent on Western largesse and not in any kind of position to challenge US hegemony. However, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men gang astray’ as they say. Russia has a powerful military equipped with nuclear weapons, it’s no defenceless, developing country and in all likelihood, the Russian response was not the one the US/NATO expected.

Everything is in flux
It’s less than twenty years since the Soviet Union fell apart and for much of that time the Western powers, led by the US and the UK/EU have largely determined the nature of the ‘new’ Russia, at least they have tried to, trusting that once the Russians got a taste of the ‘free market’ they’d be easy pickings for the pirates. The principle US objectives can be summed up as follows:

1) To open up the vast Russian market to foreign capital and products;

2) Remove Russia as an economic competitor to the US by neutralizing its ability to compete in the world’s markets, in other words reduce it to a third world country;

3) Remove and/or neutralize Russia as a military power to rival its own;

4) Destabilize the situation in the Caucasus/West Asian region as it attempts to extend its control eastwards — onwards and upwards toward China.

Unlike Kargalitsky’s English counterparts, who focused pretty much on telling us what we already knew (as well as the usual exhortations as to what we should do), Kargalitsky gave us an insight into how the Russian leadership responded to the US-engineered crisis and also how the Russians themselves reacted. He pointed out that to describe the Russian response as one of “intra-imperialist rivalries” was a complete misreading of the situation. This is not a war over markets but over strategic assets, of which Georgia is but the latest acquisition by the US. But at the same time Kargalitsky is under no illusions about the Russian response, it’s no move leftward. That said, it nevertheless represents a watershed in post-Soviet US-Russian relations, a throwing down of the gauntlet by the Russian state, a move not without its risks to be sure, but one that the US and NATO can do little about except make a lot of threatening noises about ‘repercussions’. Indeed, the members of NATO can’t even agree what the ‘repercussions’ should consist of.

It is within this context that we must view the vital role of the corporate media in orchestrating events for public consumption of which the timing of the Georgian attack was crucial, when the world’s media was focused on the opening of the Beijing Olympics. The degree to which the media has ignored the unprovoked attack on Southern Ossetia by Georgia is staggering; it simply ceased to exist, to be replaced by “a war between Russia and Georgia” at best and “naked aggression” by Russia at its worst. There can be no clearer indication of the role of the corporate/state media in selling the Empire’s objectives than the way this, the latest disaster has been presented. But it should be pointed out that there is a growing gap between what the public is really concerned about and the all-out propaganda campaign about the ‘aggressive Russian Bear’ rearing its furry shoulders above all those repossessed houses.

Russia: “We’ll nuke Poland!” goes the headline in the Sun on 14 August, 2008. But what the Russian General Nogovitsyn really said was, “Poland, by deploying [the system] is exposing itself to a strike – 100 per cent,” which is nothing less than the truth as Poland has placed itself in the frontline should a war break out. Who knows what the US promised the Poles (or what arms were twisted) but its actions over Georgia should be a lesson to the Polish government that no promise made by the US can be relied upon. And, upon reflection as simplistic as it may appear to be, it occurs to me that the US ‘encouraged’ Saakashvili to invade South Ossetia in order to panic the Poles into accepting the alleged missile defence system.

Georgia is yet another move in a game of chess; strike where you perceive your enemy to have weaknesses. So the Autonomous Region of South Ossetia (to give it its real name) has been simmering since 1994, held in check by the Russian presence, who find themselves sandwiched between Georgian and South Ossetian nationalists. It doesn’t take much to light the fire; make a promise (not kept of course) that you’ll back Saakashvili (or at least give Georgia the ‘nod’). Remember Saddam and Kuwait in 1990? Or, to go back further, US promises to Hungary in 1956. Thus as far as the US is concerned, Georgia is an expendable ‘asset’, a mere pawn in its game of expansion. Thus threat and counter-threat will no doubt flow from the outcome of Saakashvili being sacrificed on the alter of US capital and a world even more destabilized than it is already as a result of US/UK/NATO actions.

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‘Chinese Torture’ or what goes around comes around By William Bowles

25 January, 2008

Dumping on China by the usual horde of Western pundits seems to be de riguer these days. Hardly a day goes by without some scary headline that either warns of the dangers of billions of Chinese getting a car, refridgerator, microwave or whatever and hastening on Climate Change and/or ‘swamping’ Western markets with an avalanche of cheap goods.

Amazing that for half a century the Cold War was all about ‘Red China’ rejecting the ‘market’ and the capitalist way of life and now they’ve got it, the self-same pundits are all whinging about the ‘threat’ from Chinese capitalism. Obviously you can’t win if you ain’t a white European or American (well at least that’s what they say for public consumption). The reality however is very different and it goes to the very core of the nature of capitalist economics, ‘expand or die’. The problem for Western Capitalism is that the new boy on the block, China, is just too big to take on and what’s more it now produces most of everything we buy in malls across the land.

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Bush’s Tower of Babble by William Bowles

3 November 2011

“[W]e got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have [sic] the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon” — president Bush in a White House press conference, September 5, 2006

‘Iran’, ‘Israel’, ‘Destroy’,’Nuclear Weapon’, ‘WWIII’, ‘Knowledge’, ‘Prevention’ — Bush

Talk about using loaded words! Israel is both literally and figuratively, loaded. The other of course is nuclear. Note however that in this instance, Bush talks not about Iran actually building nuclear weapons, now he’s talking about Iran gaining the knowledge to build one.

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Mixed(up) Messages By William Bowles

25 April 2006

The hysteria being generated around Iran’s alleged nuclear ‘ambitions’ (the media’s favourite newspeak word these days) serves several purposes; one, it conveniently diverts attention away from the situation in Iraq; two, it acts as a warning to any other country challenging US imperialism’s increasingly desperate bid for global domination and, it also serves to divert attention away from the real and present danger of climate catastrophe which is itself directly the result of the Western world’s suicidal economic system.

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The Devil lives in the detail – Demonising Iran By William Bowles

10 February 2006

The latest dissection by Medialens of the corporate media’s devious and misleading coverage of Iran, is an excellent analysis of how the media distort and lie about events and, as the article points out, alleged intent on the part of the Iranians is almost always presented as a ‘slip of the pen’ when the media are caught out eg:

“I accept that it would have been better to have said ‘alleged nuclear threat’. I am sorry that my wording was not as precise as it could have been.” (Email to Media Lens from James Robbins, BBC correspondent, January 24, 2005)

“We should have said ‘nuclear activities’, not ‘nuclear weapons activities’.” (Corrections and clarifications, The Guardian, February 7, 2006)

But of course the damage has not only already been done, it continues to be done. Take for example, a ‘background’ piece on the Iran ‘crisis’ (though it’s a ‘crisis’ entirely of the West’s making) on the BBC’s Website where we read: Continue reading

The Iran ‘crisis’ – the bullshit continues By William Bowles

15 January 2006

An unnamed official said…

A story in the London Independent (14/1/06) is typical of the kind of propaganda war being waged by the UK and the US over Iran’s alleged programme to acquire nuclear weapons. In fact, the story is a model piece, worthy of dissection for the various messages it carries to a public which has been deliberately misled over the real nature of the ‘crisis’, a ‘crisis’ deliberately engineered by the West and for a number of reasons. Continue reading

Prime (Time) Evil By William Bowles

12 January 2006

Iran’s relations with its erstwhile partners in Europe seem to be hurtling downhill like a snowball out of control.– Bridget Kendall, BBC diplomatic correspondent, 27 October 2005

No prizes awarded for what inspired this classic piece of state propaganda but it speaks reams about the relationship between the state and the corporate media. After all, what is it based on? Nothing more than the US and UK’s assertion concerning Iran’s ‘intentions’, in other words, Ms. Kendall’s words are essentially the propaganda equivalent of a pre-emptive strike. Continue reading

The Massage is the Message By William Bowles

26 January 2005

On yesterday’s BBC1 lunchtime news, diplomatic correspondent James Robbins declared that US relations with Iran were “looking very murky because of the nuclear threat”. (BBC1, 13:00 News, January 20, 2005)

On the BBC’s 18:00 news, Robbins again spoke of Iran “where the President is confronting the nuclear threat”. (BBC1, 18:00 News, January 25, 2005)

A previous alert from MediaLens on Iran serves to remind us of the role of the intelligentsia in creating the ‘right kind’ of space for further imperial adventures as the innocuous-sounding quotes above aptly illustrate. But just who are they talking to? After all, if one is to judge by the surveys of the BBC’s news/current affairs listener and viewer-ship, it’s overwhelmingly white, male and over fifty, so frankly, who gives a shit? (see also the follow-up to this).

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What Goes Around, Comes Around By William Bowles

20 January 2005

In a shrinking world, which now faces the threat of atomic warfare, it is not an adequate objective merely to seek to check the Kremlin design, for the absence of order among nations is becoming less and less tolerable. This fact imposes on us, in our own interests, the responsibility of world leadership.
The US National Security Directive 68, April 1950

An awful lot of energy was expended in 2004 on the ‘Anybody But Bush’ debate, with the ABB brigade predicting really dire consequences if Bush got reelected (as opposed to just dire consequences if Kerry got the job). I tried to present the various for and against arguments here although my own opinion was (and still is) that it would make little difference as to who purchased the position given that the job of president is in any case pretty much that of a figurehead. Much more important is to understand what’s going on in the real centres of power that promoted both candidates.

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Terminal Capitalism Two: It’s a Male Thing By William Bowles

13 November 2003

“The 2004 Defense Authorization Act…repeals a statutory ban on research and development of low-yield nuclear weapons, authorizes continued research on the “robust nuclear earth penetrator,” and requires the Department of Energy to achieve and maintain the ability to conduct an underground nuclear explosive test within 18 months.” – Secrecy News, http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/crs/RL32130.pdf

So here we go again, round two of the preparation for Armageddon and no doubt, the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians, Indians et al, read Secrecy News as well they should. And should anyone have any doubts that the leaders of the ‘free world’ are indeed completely balmy, check out the language of the technocrats that sell their humanity in exchange for what? The quest for knowledge? Money? A stimulating working environment? How do people, who no doubt have families and mums and dads of their own justify their whoring for capitalism by developing a “robust nuclear earth penetrator?”

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