Crimea and Punishment

Published on (first on Consortium News/News Analysis), by Lorraine Barlett, March 22, 2014.

Oh, how we Americans love to have someone to spar with, and to hate on, especially when it brings a renewed opportunity for us to engage in our favorite sport. So ramp up the rhetoric and ready the rockets, gang, it’s time for some war games. So, Risk, anyone? Oh wait … that’s just kids’ play. We all know that REAL men prefer Russian roulette … or do they simply march to Tehran? 

So now I must ask, where ARE the antiwar activists in this crisis … are they perhaps exhausted by their most recent (and many would argue, failed) foray into pacifism? Meaning, has the ongoing conflict in Syria left such a bad taste in their mouths that they, too, are now wearily resigned to taking up the stick again, when it comes to a stubborn mule like ol’ Vlad? The trouble is, how long can we afford to beat the drum – and the dead warhorse – before we realize that it just ain’t working anymore…

The situation is made worse than ever by virtue of the unison chorus repeating its siren song ad nauseam in this latest episode of Kabuki, American style. Indeed, both the Left and Right have joined together in a saber-rattling extravaganza, choreographed to demonize and denounce Putin for his many, ahem, transgressions (to wit, bringing Russia back from the abyss of economic failure by pumping gas and making deals with the BRIC gang, further undermining U.S. hegemony; intervening in Georgia (well, I might give them that one…); pulling Obama’s fat out the fire with regard to his Syrian “red line”, simultaneously promoting a rapprochement with Iran in the mix; then hosting a terror-free Olympics… Why, he spent $50 billion on that tacky carnival!)

Even when he’s right, he’s wrong! And don’t forget his macho bareback equestrian adventures… maybe we could just settle this whole conflict by having our Duck Dynasty guys challenge him to a catfish noodling contest… the reality show crowd would eat that up, wouldn’t they?
The point is, this latest manufactured crisis is, to some extent, attributable to the continuing triumph of hasbara over reason. [Hasbara is a Hebrew word defined as something between propaganda and information. Also see
ICIC Hasbara.

In an article which appeared back in March 2007, Muhammad Idrees Ahmad astutely framed the crucial issue which yet persists: “In the lead up to the Iraq war, the antiwar movement itself became the contested space where ideas had to be contained, managed and neutralized, lest they undermine the tenuous support necessary for legitimizing the war. A carefully orchestrated media campaign set the terms of the [then] debate — WMD, regime change, and democracy promotion…

“The war party, on the other hand, was far more successful in organizing and centralizing elements of the civil society to legitimize its agenda. [Italian political theorist Antonio] Gramsci’s contention that the civil society is a constitutive element of the state was evident in the various lobby groups, think tanks and support networks that furnished and disseminated propaganda to build support for the war. With a case couched in exaggerated fears and emotive language, it succeeded in engendering the kind of jingoistic unreason that has enabled many wars of aggression.”

Anyone interested in current international events should read the entire article, cited above. For plainly, the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, as in Syria, is but a continuation of this “politics by other means.” But who, or what, is really controlling the message behind this madness? And what is their purpose?

Greater minds than I have identified the root of the current cause célèbre. As Robert Parry notes at … //
… (full text).

Link: Ukraine Loses Its Way (2), on (first on Project Syndicate), by Vaclav Havel, Richard von Weizscker and Desmond Tutu, September 2, 2011.

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