August 11, 2008
The Smell of Propaganda in the Morning
By GREG MOSES
There are two sides bleeding and too many dead in what is hopefully the aftermath of a weekend war in the Caucasus. And right on cue, the prime opinion space for the American mind is being occupied this Monday morning by a propagandist for perpetual war.
"Will Russia get away with it?" asks the beaming columnist for the New York Times, his smile winking at you as if no way he could be talking up death and disaster.
On one side of the world, writes the propagandist, you have "the United States and its democratic allies." On the other side, you'll find "dictatorial and aggressive and fanatical regimes" who "seem happy to work together to weaken the influence of the United States and its democratic allies."
"The United States, of course, is not without resources and allies to deal with these problems and threats," hints the propagandist. "But at times we seem oddly timid and uncertain." Which brings us around to his winking question again: "Will we let Russia get away with it?"
But what if we paraphrase a famous movie hero and remind the propagandist that aggressive is as aggressive does. Then, we may ask, which side of the propagandist's world last Thursday picked up its guns and blasted a path through the Caucasus Mountains to the city of Tskhinvali, killing as many local militia as possible and quite a few others who somehow got in the way?
Was it the enemies of the US and its allies who did this thing? Was it the Russians? Who was it who sent 30,000 refugees fleeing northward for their lives, some of whom stayed North just long enough to catch their breaths before heading South again to fight for their homeland?
Maybe the propagandist means to ask if we will let Russia get away with letting so many refugees flee into its country so quickly? I mean, by comparison, how does that make the US immigration police look in the eyes of the world?
As it turns out, the Russians were not only watching, but waiting, says Michel Chossudovsky of the Centre for Global Research. "The Russian response," he writes, "was entirely predictable."
Against the predominantly Georgian military (who were at least accompanied by Israeli advisors, and very likely other nationalities, too, although the New York Times was good enough to minimize embarrassing gossip of American involvement over the weekend) the Russians let go an onslaught of tanks, driving the Georgian coalition backward as quickly as they had arrived.
Does the propagandist mean to ask whether we will let the Russians get away with that tank attack? It's a curious question, because it seems to accept the premise that "the United States and its democratic allies" should certainly be allowed to get away with marching on Tskhinvali next time, only without anyone else "happy to work together" against it.
The Russians did go farther than just pushing back the Georgian coalition. Their leaders exercised a right to "retaliation" which is a little broader than a right to "protect and defend." It would be better if we lived in a world where nobody was allowed to "retaliate." But I live in Texas, and the movement against retaliation isn't going to start here, so maybe the propagandist thinks it should begin in Georgia? We can see plainly that it won't begin at the New York Times.
In the end, I wonder if the propagandist has read any Jung lately, because he seems to have a very immature conception of himself, completely unable to recognize that he has become his own shadow: "dictatorial and aggressive and fanatical." But in this regard he serves his social function perfectly as a perfect reflection of the mind of New York Times readers everywhere.
Well, not to be too harsh, there is some helpful reporting that slips through the teeth at the Times. On Monday morning we can also read how that wearily retreating Georgia coalition was expressing bitter disappointment that more of the US and its allies were not there when, apparently, they had been expected to show up.
After the traumatized soldiers from the Georgia coalition get home and have a little more time to think about what they have lost forever, they may wish to take up the question of the propagandist, who knows? Make it their life's work, for pay. Or they may do what many young men have done among the US and its allies, that is, start a local chapter of veterans against war.
Greg Moses is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. He is a contributor to Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org