In its editorial titled, “Mr. Putin Tests the West in Ukraine” (28 August 2014), the New York Times excoriated President Vladimir Putin for playing “his dangerous game in Ukraine with cunning and deceit since the ouster in February of the corrupt Viktor Yanukovych lost him a president he could manipulate.” Relying on intelligence provided by NATO, the Times accused Mr. Putin of ordering a “significant escalation” in Russia’s military “interference” in Ukraine.
Many Western analysts believe Russia’s “significant escalation” explains why the separatists in Eastern Ukraine were able to halt their near encirclement by Ukraine’s army and launch a counterattack that has drastically altered the facts on the ground. Now, Ukraine’s army is suffering a significant loss of manpower due to wounds, deaths, captures and desertions. It has suffered numerous defeats and is in retreat. These setbacks have caused heads to explode in Kiev, in the West, and at the Times.
In fact, this very Times editorial contains the cunning and deceit it attributes to Mr. Putin. While it denounces Russia’s seizure of territory by force, it fails to denounce U.S.-sponsored regime change. Moreover, it flagrantly fails to mention the illegal coup — sponsored by the U.S. and European Union and spearheaded by neo-Nazis – that put into office a Ukrainian puppet that the West could easily manipulate.
In addition to cunning and deceit, the Times editorial makes a statement of fact without a shred of evidence to support that fact. Although the coup regime in Kiev refuses to release the communications that took place between Kiev’s air traffic controller and the crew of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17; although international investigators have yet to release the flight’s black box data; and although U.S. intelligence cannot rule out the possibility that Ukrainian troops shot down MH17, the Times recklessly asserts that “the rebels shot down a Malaysian jetliner.” Should we blame the editorial board for stupidity — or dishonesty?
Worse, a few days later, the International New York Times sank to a new low in anti-Russia hysteria, when it published Ben Judah’s essay titled, “Arm Ukraine or Surrender.” It is an abomination that gives both the paper and the author a self-inflicted black eye.
First, Mr. Judah asserts that “Mr. Putin is not rational.” Forget that his assertion cannot be proved. Instead, consider how this sleazy ad hominem attack reveals far more about Mr. Judah’s panic, desperation and fear mongering over the turn of events in Ukraine than it does about Mr. Putin. Had he kept his wits about him, Mr. Judah would have recalled the recent words of Henry Kissinger: “The demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.”
Second, Mr. Judah admits that “unlimited European Union and NATO expansion have meant war with Russia by proxy.” Thus, he explicitly blames the West for provoking Russia’s reaction. Perhaps, he read John Mearsheimer’s recent article in Foreign Affairs (“Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault”) and could no longer deny the obvious.
Yet, his article is dishonest, insofar as it fails to mention the illegal anti-Russia coup which was supported by the U.S. State Department and CIA, as well as the European Union, but spearheaded by Ukrainian neo-Nazis.
That coup not only overturned a democratically elected government, but also threatened to disenfranchise Russians living in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Consequently, it was precisely that coup, which set in motion the disaster that has befallen Ukraine today. Such a glaring omission by a journalist supposedly familiar with Russia and Ukraine suggests blatant dishonesty.
Third, Mr. Judah knows that President Putin repeatedly has warned that any attempt to incorporate either Georgia or Ukraine into NATO would constitute a threat to its national security. Russia backed up its warning by sending troops into Georgia in 2008. And when the West failed that tutorial, Russia backed up its warning once again by sending troops into Ukraine in 2014.
Indeed, Russia has as much right as any other country to determine threats to its national security. Russia also has as much right to keep NATO out of Ukraine as the U.S. had, when it denied the Soviet Union the right to install missiles in Cuba. But, in his state of feverish anti-Russia hysteria, Mr. Judah refuses to acknowledge such rights.
Fourth, contrary to Mr. Judah’s illogical assertion, Russia’s desire to keep NATO out of Georgia or Ukraine hardly constitutes a desire “to undermine NATO.” Unless, of course, ANY attempt to prevent further NATO expansion constitutes a desire “to undermine NATO.”
Fifth, precisely because NATO expansion into Georgia or Ukraine was the red line that Russia repeatedly told the West not to cross, it hardly follows that Russia would seek to exploit the Russians in the Baltic States, in order to “manufacture new ‘frozen conflicts.’” In his feverish frame of mind, Mr. Judah has extrapolated far beyond what the evidence suggests thus far.
(Nevertheless, one cannot rule out the possibility that some new Western response to Mr. Putin’s interference in Ukraine might provoke Mr. Putin to put pressure on the Baltic States.)
Sixth, Mr. Judah suggests that the West must be willing “to fight a new Cold War with Russia over Ukrainians’ independence.” First, we already are in a new Cold War. Second, Mr. Judah might want to specify which Ukrainians merit independence.
Were he honest, Mr. Judah would have dispensed with such weasel words as “Ukrainians’ independence,” and boldly asserted that the West must be willing to fight a new Cold War in order to achieve the “ruthless pacification of Russians living in Eastern Ukraine.” Fortunately, given the recent rout of Ukraine’s army by Eastern Ukrainian separatists, that is unlikely to happen.
Finally, there is no better evidence to suggest that Mr. Judah’s head has exploded, due to the separatists’ recent military successes, than his recommendation that the West be willing to go to war with Russia over Ukraine. Clearly, feverish and egregiously immature judgment has trumped his common sense. After all, it was Albert Einstein who asserted: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Consequently, anybody so immature and excitable as to countenance World War III cannot be considered a serious journalist and should not be allowed near a laptop – except to write about births, weddings, soap operas, sports, movies and food.
You might redeem yourself from your self-inflicted black eye, Mr. Judah, were you to put aside your laptop and join Kiev’s poor conscripts and evil neo-Nazis on the battlefield. Perhaps, you do not realize it, but it is quite unseemly to use fear mongering to urge others to die for a cause you support, but for which you are unwilling to die.
So, redeem yourself. Go do your part to set things right as you see them. But, on the battlefield, not through your feverish, infantile, and fear mongering journalism. While you’re at it, bring those effete chicken-hawks at the Times with you – exploded heads and all.