On Ukraine, the media asks you to doubt your own eyes


In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pays a visit to the frontline in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, February 17, 2022. /CFP

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pays a visit to the frontline in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, February 17, 2022. /CFP

Editor’s note: Ian Goodrum is an editor and columnist at China Daily. The article reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Don’t look now, but there may be Russians hiding in your closet. I hear President Vladimir Putin himself is here right now… watching and just waiting for the right moment to come out and give you a good scare.

It is not the product of the unbridled imagination of a frightened child. That’s what the war hawks in Washington and their media cronies have been pushing for over the past two months, as an estimated 100,000 Russian troops have taken up positions near the Ukrainian border.

Never mind that similar troop movements occur regularly before scheduled military exercises. It doesn’t matter that 100,000 troops aren’t close enough to credibly invade or occupy Ukraine; that’s less than a third of what the United States used for its catastrophic bloodshed in Iraq, a country that in 2003 had half the current population of Ukraine. Never mind the Ukrainian government’s own words: “Don’t believe doomsday predictions. “It’s the panic.”

Forget all that. The media have offered breathless predictions about when the Russian boots will land on Ukrainian soil. “They are coming soon, January 20. No waiting, during the Beijing Winter Olympics. Wait, we have another date, February 16!”

It is reminiscent of the long-awaited catastrophe of the year 2000 which was not, or the supposed prediction of an apocalypse in 2012 due to the end of the Mayan calendar. Every day brings new predictions, made with absolute certainty, of an invasion that has yet to take place.

But it is to their advantage. For the American press, Russia is in a perpetual state of near-invasion, a serpent coiled up and ready to strike. This is their dream scenario; an endless source of alarmist stories about how tomorrow, next week, next month, the fateful day will come.

It is a fiction that serves their interests, as well as those of the military-industrial complex and finance capital. All can make a pretty penny out of this hectic standoff, whether through panic clicks on sensationalized articles, new defense appropriations, or massive loan sharking to a beleaguered economy.

The truth, which these media would never dare to admit, is that this crisis is one of America’s own causes. Thanks to his relentless expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the placement of thousands of troops along Russia’s borders, this outcome was inevitable. The creation of NATO in 1949 was presented as a defensive bulwark against the creeping “threat” of communism as personified in the Soviet Union. In reality, it was a way to secure American influence over member states through military might and a massive nuclear arsenal. Skepticism about the alliance, which fluctuated during the Cold War, was all but confirmed after the demise of the Soviet Union, as NATO did not disband and instead assumed a larger role. in the police activities of Member and non-Member States.

A promise to Russia not to expand eastward out of respect for its security concerns has been flagrantly and repeatedly abandoned, as the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, the Baltic states and several others Central and Eastern European states joined in direct defiance of Russian objections. The slow and steady encroachment of foreign troops would be seen as a provocation by any country; let alone one who had already received promises that such a thing would never happen. Imagine the headlines if the tables were turned and Russia moved forces through Mexico to the US border.

A batch of US military aid is unloaded at Boryspil International Airport in the Kyiv region of northern Ukraine on January 25, 2022. /CFP

A batch of US military aid is unloaded at Boryspil International Airport in the Kyiv region of northern Ukraine on January 25, 2022. /CFP

But a scare like this is not a one-dimensional flexing of the ability of the US government and media to fabricate a narrative, nor strictly a ploy to flood Ukraine with predatory armaments and loans. It’s both those things, of course, but also a way to discipline allies by reminding them of exactly where their bread is buttered. Countries previously reluctant to sever economic ties with Russia are heavily armed to take sides for fear of losing the patronage of the world’s biggest economy – and military.

Perhaps the best example is Germany, where, as in many other European countries, Russia is a key source of energy. The construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Germany and Russia, for example, has been tense for years. Countless attempts to halt construction have been made by the United States, as the new pipeline would freeze its multinational energy giants from a lucrative revenue stream.

Nord Stream 2 is unlikely to be shut down at this late date, but an atmosphere of heightened fear and suspicion has created a chilling effect on any business with Russia, giving US companies time to build credibility in Europe as alternative. source of natural gas. Even after Putin held talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and both reaffirmed the need for a diplomatic solution, the United States remained impassive, as if everyone at the State Department had suddenly gone deaf. . Peace, after all, is not profitable in financial or geopolitical terms.

Like so many of these media creations, the ever-looming threat of invasion is completely unfalsifiable. Any action or inaction can be transmogrified into a smoking gun, the last piece of evidence of an attack is just around the corner. It even happened in defiance of any recognizable logic. Most notably, when Russia pulled troops away from the border earlier this week, the United States claimed the move was just a sham to trick the world into thinking there was a pullout. De-escalation equals escalation, so back on the ride, here we go.

If this deliberate escalation of hostilities results in a real conflict, then of course those responsible will make it the product of inexplicable “Russian aggression”. And if in the future the Biden administration and its media lackeys let go of their war fever, it will be seen as proof that the United States avoided cataclysm through “tough negotiations.”

There is no scenario in which the United States cannot claim responsibility for a positive outcome or blame Russia for a negative outcome. It’s a smart strategy – as long as you’re callous enough to treat human beings like pawns on a chessboard.

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