South Ossetia Question Marks: Propaganda the Morning After

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 a member of the Texas Civil Rights Collective.. Read other articles by Greg, or visit Greg's website.

12 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. rjones2818 said on August 11th, 2008 at 8:03am #

    Izvestia is reporting (yesterday) that a American advisor had been captured (link in Russian):

    So much for the Times.

  2. Michael Kenny said on August 11th, 2008 at 8:15am #

    Mr Moses has struck the right note this time, addressing what his own country should do and not telling other people how to run their countries. And, of course, even the most rabid neocons realise that the US can really do nothing. The commentators on the right-wing sites are all babling incoherently. One says the US didn’t have to go to war because Georgia is not in NATO. That must be very reassuring in Taiwan! Another says there isn’t enough at stake in South Ossetia (English translation = Israel’s interests are not affected). That will reassure tiny Estonia and Latvia, although they have the might of Fortress Europe behind them!

    If people weren’t being killed, it would actually be funny! The US has shown that (very wisely!) it is unwilling to go one on one with Russia. That is the shot not heard around the world! There is no point in being a US “ally” if America runs for cover as soon as someone attacks you! Georgia committed a huge chunk of its army (2000 troops) to Iraq and now, they have had to come scuttling home to defend the country their great “ally” will not defend.

    And, of course, US policy over Kosovo is discredited. And, of course, the pro-Serbia, “territorial integrity”, faction in the EU has been proved right and you can expect a strong re-affirmation of the latter principle from Brussels, further undermining the American position.

    An interesting side effect, though, is that the civilian population has, of course, fled, mostly into North Ossetia (population 715 000). At a guess, much of the pro-Russian element will probably stay there whereas the pro-Georgian faction will return. That tacit piece of ethnic cleansing actually suits everybody, even the Ossetians!

    I would guess that the anti-Georgian Ossetians will slowly “seep” northwards into Russia and, little by little, the pro-Georgian faction will gain the upper hand. At that point, the problem is solved.

    A “splendid little war”, as someone siad of the Spanish-American War!

  3. cg said on August 11th, 2008 at 9:48am #

    Notice how the media conveniently omits any references to the 1,000 Israeli ‘advisers’ and especially the Israeli “forward operating artillery unit” which just happened to be there training the Georgians?
    Along with dead Americans there are also dead Ukrainians and dead Israelis as well.
    Remember this all started with the artillery bombardment of the S. Ossetian capitol and its exclusive civilian population. Two thousand dead civilians.
    Oh well, any war criminals know which shitty little country they can run to and avoid extradition and prosecution. Don’t they?

  4. Deadbeat said on August 11th, 2008 at 1:00pm #

    Can someone explain why the Israelis were involved in this affair. I also heard it discussed today on DemocracyNow. Why would the Israelis want to antagonizes the Russians? Thanks in advance.

  5. William said on August 11th, 2008 at 2:03pm #

    what about Chechnya, Russia now is just trying to retake control of a former soviet republic, it would have been ok if they just took control of south ossetia, but now they have gone too far and revealed they true intentions

  6. William said on August 11th, 2008 at 2:03pm #

    what about Chechnya, Russia now is just trying to retake control of a former soviet republic, it would have been ok if they just took control of south ossetia, but now they have gone too far and revealed their true intentions

  7. Lloyd Rowsey said on August 11th, 2008 at 2:41pm #

    Yeah, LA to NY, both the Times are shit.

  8. Kim Petersen said on August 11th, 2008 at 3:58pm #

    To your query, check out this analysis Deadbeat.

  9. John Hatch said on August 11th, 2008 at 5:14pm #

    Kim, thanks for the link to the analysis. I had no idea that the US (and Israel) had such influence in the area (Georgia). The attack looks like a very dangerous and reckless provocation of Russia.

  10. Deadbeat said on August 11th, 2008 at 6:01pm #

    Thanks Kim for the links. This is pretty dangerous politics going on here. Clearly it seem designed to maintain the war machine. With the American people weary of waging War a return to the politics of the Cold War would seem an absolute necessity. I hope the American people can resist the propaganda to return to such retrograde politics and stand firm against reviving the Cold War which will only serve to continue to drain the treasury and innocent lives.

  11. cg said on August 11th, 2008 at 6:52pm #

    Well, this didn’t take long.
    One thing about dealing with Israel (and the US), you can always count on double dealing snake in the grass backstabbing treachery.

  12. Richard Posner said on August 11th, 2008 at 9:43pm #

    I can easily imagine the war profiteering “defense contractors”, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and a host of others salivating at the prospect of the rebirth of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I can envision the authors of PNAC and all the happy little war mongering politicians, demopublicans and repubilcrats alike, longing for the “rapture” with visions of mushroom clouds dancing in their heads. The u.s. will make no real effort to thwart the rebuilding of the “soviet empire”. It will give amerika a real, nuclear armed boogey man to ad to the one we created with the “war on terror” to replace it. Perpetual war is their nirvana. War is peace. Orwell would just shake his head, turn over and go back to his eternal sleep. He wouldn’t even bother to say, “I told you so”.