Stenography for Centers of Power

A Canadian Yahoo blogger writes an article1 that oscillates between disinformation and propaganda.

The blogger quotes Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper: “Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine and provocative military activity remains a serious concern to the international community.” These words are proffered without analysis.

What occupation of Ukraine by Russia?

A partial and contradictory explanation follows when the blogger writes: “NATO is increasing its military footprint in Eastern Europe amid growing concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions in the region following his country’s annexation of Crimea.”

In other words, the intrigues in Ukraine are based in concerns about “Putin’s intentions in the region” and not based in Russian concerns about NATO expansion eastward toward Russia in violation of promises by US officials that such eastward expansion would not take place.2

Moreover, Russia is accused of “annexation of Crimea.” Strictly speaking this is true; the territory of Crimea was incorporated into Russia, but it omits relevant current and recent historical context.

Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to become a part of Russia. In a world in which democracy matters, then the results of the referendum, where 96.77 percent of Crimeans opted for joining Russia, with a high turnout and international observers present, speaks unequivocally.3,4 At the time when Crimea was gifted to Ukraine by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union. There was no referendum on the transfer at that time – it being decided in 15 minutes.5,6

Hypocrisy

The referendum process is recognized as a legitimate means for deciding on separation within Canada. Two such referenda have occurred in the province of Quebec.

The Canadian state is also a staunch backer of Jewish annexation of historical Palestine. Israel daily Haaretz reports, as recently as 29 April, the Netayahu administration’s go ahead for a record annexation of West Bank territory.7

How is that to this day in Canada, the bulk of the territory colonially designated British Columbia has never been ceded by the First Nations, and yet it remains under what is, in essence, occupation and non-Indigenous governance? The legitimacy of First Nations claims have been in abeyance for over a century.8

The blogger also quotes US secretary-of-state John Kerry: “It is not as if we really haven’t bent over backwards to try to set a new course in the post-Cold War era. What Russia’s actions in Ukraine tell us is that today [President Vladimir] Putin’s Russia is playing by a different set of rules.”

The old course of the US is history, and it includes the genocide of Indigenous peoples, broken treaties, slavery, as well as the annexation of Texas9 and Hawai’i.10

So what is the “new course”? Since the turn of the millennium, the US has invaded, overthrown governments, and occupied Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan; it has variously supported and/or master-minded and/or acquiesced to coups in Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Honduras, and Paraguay; it participated in the military overthrow of the Libyan government and agitates for regime change in Syria while concurrently supporting repressive dictatorships in places such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Israel; it has launched drone attacks in countries, among them Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

A comparison of Russia’s set of rules versus the US set of rules on invasions, overthrow of foreign governments, territories occupied/annexed, coups, and launch of drone attacks should prove very revealing.

A professional journalist provides relevant background and context; a professional journalist scrutinizes centers of power rather than serving as a stenographer for power; a professional journalist lays out his case with sufficient information for readers to arrive at an informed conclusion.

  1. Canada to deploy the HMCS Regina to Europe for NATO mission,” Yahoo News, 30 May 2014. []
  2. See Walter C. Uhler, “Dear NATO: Are You Lying about Russia or Simply Incompetent?Dissident Voice, 18 April 2014. []
  3. Crimean ‘referendum at gunpoint’ is a myth – intl observers,” RT, 2014. []
  4. It is true that the status quo was not presented as a referendum option, but this still could not plausibly account for the landslide vote to join Russia. []
  5. See Krishnadev Calamur, “Crimea: A Gift To Ukraine Becomes A Political Flash Point,” NPR, 27 February 2014. []
  6. For further relevant background information, see Jack A. Smith, “What Really Happened in Ukraine?Dissident Voice, 26 March 2014. []
  7. Chaim Levison, “Israel authorizes record amount of West Bank land for settlement construction,” Haaretz, 29 April 2014. []
  8. See Bruce Clark’s Native Liberty, Crown Sovereignty: The Elusive Aboriginal Right of Self-Government in Canada (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990: 204) and Justice in Paradise (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999; specific to BC, see Kerry Coast, The Colonial Present: The Rule of Ignorance and the Role of Law in British Columbia (Clarity Press and International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, 2013). See review of Coast’s book. []
  9. See chapter 8 of Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (New York: Perennial Classics, 2001). []
  10. See David E. Stannard, Before the Horror: The Population of Hawai’i on the Eve of Western Contact (Social Science Research Institute, University of Hawaii, 1989: 65.) []

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.