Something popped up on the social network of The Book of Face. It might seem simple enough on the face of it, and unfortunately, interaction and communication there is limited and a tad problematic. It’s a setup made for people “Sharing” YouSpace videos of dancing kitties and people falling over. Serious information and conversation, not so much.
It was a simple “status update” post, of an online pal asking “WTF is Putin up to?”. She didn’t explain anything more about this. It could have been prompted by any number of stories in the pseudo-newslike infotainment that passes for news here in America circa 2014.
The whole large and messy and complicated story, or collection of stories, surrounding things that started with trouble in Kiev close to a year ago has been so distorted, so filled with confusing and misleading “information” that includes absolute blatant outright lying, that the general “common knowledge” consensus (what writer James Howard Kunstler nicely termed “the memespace”) here in the US, and, apparently, in much of Europe, has very little in common with reality. Incidentally, the online acquaintance is an American married to an Englishman, and apparently lives going back and forth between stays in the US and stays in the UK, so she gets it in both places.
Among the people with a better grasp of the reality is engineer and writer Dmitry Orlov, a Russian-American who was born in the former Soviet Union, and whose life has been spent back and forth between the two places, what was the Soviet Union and is now the Russian Federation, and the United States. He knows both places very well. One comment in his regular online blog sticks in mind. Comparing the two places, past and present, he stated the basic point that at least in the former USSR, anybody with any kind of sense and intelligence knew very well that what they were fed as news in things like Pravda (the Russian word for “truth”, ironically, if I remember right) were complete bullshit, total propaganda, believed by nobody except delusional halfwits.
The trouble now, Orlov said, is that here in the US, now, and evidently to a large extent in Europe, people sometimes referred to as “news consumers” swallow doses of what passes for news here with most of them seemingly completely naively believing that we have something like a free press doing journalism. The majority simply can’t, won’t, believe that it’s great heaping piles of rubbish. That affects many subjects, with all the repercussions and consequences that follow, but to move along here, the specific problem here is about the kinds of complete nonsense you can find coming from otherwise very bright people on the subject of, in this case, Putin. Why? Because they’re operating on the basis of what they’re heard and read, and all they’re hearing and reading is what some people want people to think, not the truth.
Part of the general problem in all this is that so many people are so prone to slipping into some sort of ruts of neat simplistic narratives (or “memes”) that it’s a bit tricky to even dig into a topic like this without somebody, somewhere, missing the point and information in nearly all of it and saying you’re some kind of “anti-American Putin apologist” or some such nonsense. If you said to me, a few years ago, that I would find myself having to argue things that would be essentially regarded as defending Vladimir Putin, I would have laughed at you. The problem is, as things are now, there is so much complete nonsense flying around painting an image of Putin as something like a Bond movie villain, demonizing the character, that trying to help bring reality back into the frame is necessary.
Overall, examining the whole epic of the trouble in Ukraine and the way Putin and Russia have been dragged into it, an honest objective look at the whole circus makes it apparent that, really, all things considered, Putin and the other Russian leadership have been remarkably steady and restrained about the whole deal, almost like, you know, rational and sensible adults with a general sense of goodwill and, well, sense. Phrased less tactfully, not being batshit crazy morons trying hard to start World War III.
I’m not so sure that it would be such a good time to live in Russia under Putin’s government. It’s an easy target for people with an interest in doing so to paint an ugly picture of the man… a former KGB agent, who seems to have made himself “strongman leader” of an authoritarian government, who is rumored to have become, let’s say, suspiciously wealthy while in charge, and having ideas or plans that clash with his is apparently a source of trouble. The actual facts, though, in terms of the international scene, is that Putin has been, well, as I said, a rational fair-minded and pretty candid and honest adult, and I’m not the only one noticing this. I’m also not the only one noticing our own government “leadership” being quite a contrast, being belligerent, aggressive lunatics and blatant liars, megalomania out of control. Added to that, the petulant raging when the plans for world domination and Empire of the megalomaniac neocon cult go sideways is just astonishing. Well, hang on. It was astonishing, for a while. Now it’s just business as usual.
I’ve been over much of the whole “Ukraine Crisis” saga and all the reality distortion and blatant untruth surrounding it, but here I am again. I won’t do a full recap, which would be too much, anyway, it’s such a massive and complicated epic.
In fairly recent news, it’s easy to find an example of the kinds of problems there are in this. In the US news, specifically CNN, a recent pair of items reported a couple of things that fit the propaganda routine. There was, for example, a report that the ugly civil war in the eastern part of Ukraine had started up again, despite a cease-fire arranged a while back. CNN tells us that it’s just a flare-up of the violence, the civil war going again despite the cease fire, but not making it clear, at all, in any way, that “the flare-up” is that the coup/junta/putsch government in Kiev began renewed attacks on the people in the east, who refused to accept this coup government that overthrew their democratically elected president. All you do get from the CNN article, while it isn’t quite stated explicitly (which would be an outright factual lie), is a vague sense of implication, as if it were something obvious and assumed known, that the war had broken out because the Russians started it up again.
What we aren’t getting from CNN or any number of other “trusted news sources” <ahem> is that part about the new government in Kiev attacking the people in the east, who, among other things, have been called “terrorists” by the gang in Kiev, despite any evidence, even in the propaganda media, of anything like any behavior of “terrorists”.
They are, as far as I can tell, from all available information, simply living in their own home territory, wanting to be left alone by a new government by coup d’etat, dominated by actual honest to god neo-Nazi fascists, who basically want to either wipe out, or drive into exile in Russia, any and all of the people in the eastern regions of Ukraine who are, basically, Russian-Ukrainians, both Russian and Ukrainian.
Almost nothing we’ve been fed by the US State Department, the White House, or the usual popular “respected” news media has been accurate, fully covered, and true, although part of what is so twisted is that some things have made it through the fog, and yet still swept aside. An example was the Crimean referendum.
To review: Crimea, which was part of Russia until 1954, when it was made part of Ukraine while both countries were part of the USSR (so it was some weird gesture of twisted Soviet politics), was, until the coup this year, a semi-autonomous region in Ukraine. That is, until the coup, and then the new masters in Kiev reportedly declared that this was no longer valid. The parliament of Crimea, unsurprisingly, declared that Crimea did not recognize this new gang as legitimate government, and furthermore would be leaving Ukraine. A voter referendum, actual democratic self-determination by the people, in Crimea found a result of not just a massive voter turnout, by all reports, but something like 9 out of 10 Crimeans voting choosing to officially separate from Ukraine and formally ask the Russian government to make Crimea part of Russia, again.
Part of the drama was the presence of the Russian Navy base in Crimea on the Black Sea coast, where the Russian Navy has been, it turns out, for the last 200 years or so, if you include the Soviet era, and since the dissolution of the USSR, they had been there with an agreement with the newly independent Ukraine, including the part about the allowance of a specified number of Russian military personnel for the base itself and security of the base. Amazingly, as the trouble got going in Ukraine following the coup overthrowing the elected president (itself a nasty and misrepresented bit of business, a whole complicated subject in itself), with a power grab by virulently anti-Russian characters (another large subject), this Russian military presence was reported as “Invasion of Ukraine! Russian Aggression!” and so on, even though these reports were complete nonsense, just plain lying. I’ve forgotten the numbers now (and I’m not looking it up right now, this is quite enough time consumed as is), but I recall reports of what the limit was, and US news estimates of Russian military present in Crimea, and the numbers I saw reported, significantly, never exceeded the limits they were allowed.
But, the key thing is, it was obvious that neither the junta in Kiev taking power or the US neocons in Washington wanted any of them there at all. Therefore, all over the US news, it’s- hey, presto!… look at the Russian invasion of Ukraine and seizure of Crimea!
Sorting out the truth from the deceptions of carefully selective information and outright lying is a huge pile of work. This isn’t even touching many subtopics.
There’s the crash of Malaysia Airlines MH17, which was reported pretty much as “the Russians shoot down an airliner killing almost 300 innocent civilians!”, and has quietly disappeared, while, as time has passed and serious honest people try to sort it out, the much more credible scenario that has emerged, with actual evidence (unlike the vague claims that came from the State Department for a while), is that the plane was shot out of the sky by, not a ground to air missile from “Russian-back Pro-Russian separatists”, but a warplane of the Ukrainian military, very likely set up as a “false flag” attack to be blamed on the eastern “terrorists”, and, by association, Russia.
There was the infamous recorded phone conversation between the US ambassador to Ukraine and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, with Nuland’s “fuck the EU!” outburst. That was reported as a gaffe, a faux pas, ignoring the context, which was Nuland expressing her frustration about European government leaders not getting on board with the choices of Victoria Nuland for the new leadership of a new Ukrainian government, before the overthrow of the current elected president.
This isn’t even touching the neo-Nazi gang involved in the Ukrainian coup, and the government put in power, with US support, and the very ugly and well documented reality that, for the first time since World War II, a European nation has actual Nazis in positions of power, and that gangs of these goons are prime actors in the attacks on the separatists in the east.
Yes, people, what we’re told here in the US about Ukraine, Russia, and Vladimir Putin is very different from what actually is.