The U.S. group think still driving the Ukraine crisis began at least eight years ago, as detailed in this article by Robert Parry on Sept. 2, 2014.
Exclusive: Official Washington draws the Ukraine crisis in black-and-white colors with Putin the bad guy and the U.S.-backed leaders in Kiev the good guys. But the reality is much more nuanced, with Americans consistently misled on key facts, wrote Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
Special to Consortium News
Sept. 2, 2014
If you wonder how the world could stumble into World War III much as it did into World War I a century ago all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire U.S. political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats vs. black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason.
The original lie behind Official Washington’s latest “group think” was that Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated the crisis in Ukraine as part of some diabolical scheme to reclaim the territory of the defunct Soviet Union, including Estonia and other Baltic states. Though not a shred of U.S. intelligence supported this scenario, all the “smart people” of Washington just “knew” it to be true.
Yet, the once-acknowledged though soon forgotten reality was that the crisis was provoked last year by the European Union proposing an association agreement with Ukraine while U.S. neocons and other hawkish politicos and pundits envisioned using the Ukraine gambit as a way to undermine Putin inside Russia.
The plan was even announced by U.S. neocons such as National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman who took to the op-ed page of The Washington Post nearly a year ago to call Ukraine “the biggest prize” and an important interim step toward eventually toppling Putin in Russia.
Gershman, whose NED is funded by the U.S. Congress, wrote:
“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”
In other words, from the start, Putin was the target of the Ukraine initiative, not the instigator. But even if you choose to ignore Gershman’s clear intent, you would have to concoct a bizarre conspiracy theory to support the conventional wisdom about Putin’s grand plan.
To believe that Putin was indeed the mastermind of the crisis, you would have to think that he somehow arranged to have the EU offer the association agreement last year, then got the International Monetary Fund to attach such draconian “reforms” that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych backed away from the deal.
Then, Putin had to organize mass demonstrations at Kiev’s Maidan square against Yanukovych while readying neo-Nazi militias to act as the muscle to finally overthrow the elected president and replace him with a regime dominated by far-right Ukrainian nationalists and U.S.-favored technocrats. Next, Putin had to get the new government to take provocative actions against ethnic Russians in the east, including threatening to outlaw Russian as an official language.
And throw into this storyline that Putin all the while was acting like he was trying to help Yanukovych defuse the crisis and even acquiesced to Yanukovych agreeing on Feb. 21 to accept an agreement brokered by three European countries calling for early Ukrainian elections that could vote him out of office. Instead, Putin was supposedly ordering neo-Nazi militias to oust Yanukovych in a Feb. 22 putsch, all the better to create the current crisis.
While such a fanciful scenario would make the most extreme conspiracy theorist blush, this narrative was embraced by prominent U.S. politicians, including ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and “journalists” from The New York Times to CNN. They all agreed that Putin was a madman on a mission of unchecked aggression against his neighbors with the goal of reconstituting the Russian Empire. Clinton even compared him to Adolf Hitler.
This founding false narrative was then embroidered by a consistent pattern of distorted U.S. reporting as the crisis unfolded. Indeed, for the past eight months, we have seen arguably the most one-sided coverage of a major international crisis in memory, although there were other crazed MSM stampedes, such as Iraq’s non-existent WMD in 2002-03, Iran’s supposed nuclear bomb project for most of the past decade, Libya’s “humanitarian crisis” of 2011, and Syria’s sarin gas attack in 2013.
But the hysteria over Ukraine with U.S. officials and editorialists now trying to rally a NATO military response to Russia’s alleged “invasion” of Ukraine raises the prospect of a nuclear confrontation that could end all life on the planet.
The ‘Big Lie’ of the ‘Big Lie’
This madness reached new heights with a Sept. 1 (2014) editorial in the neoconservative Washington Post, which led many of the earlier misguided stampedes and was famously wrong in asserting that Iraq’s concealment of WMD was a “flat fact.” In its new editorial, the Post reprised many of the key elements of the false Ukraine narrative in the Orwellian context of accusing Russia of deceiving its own people.
The “through-the-looking-glass” quality of the Post’s editorial was to tell the “Big Lie” while accusing Putin of telling the “Big Lie.” The editorial began with the original myth about the aggression waged by Putin whose
“bitter resentment at the Soviet empire’s collapse metastasized into seething Russian nationalism.
“In prosecuting his widening war in Ukraine, he has also resurrected the tyranny of the Big Lie, using state-controlled media to twist the truth so grotesquely that most Russians are in the dark, or profoundly misinformed, about events in their neighbor to the west.
“In support of those Russian-sponsored militias in eastern Ukraine, now backed by growing ranks of Russian troops and weapons, Moscow has created a fantasy that plays on Russian victimization. By this rendering, the forces backing Ukraine’s government in Kiev are fascists and neo-Nazis, a portrayal that Mr. Putin personally advanced on Friday, when he likened the Ukrainian army’s attempts to regain its own territory to the Nazi siege of Leningrad in World War II, an appeal meant to inflame Russians’ already overheated nationalist emotions.”
The Post continued:
“Against the extensive propaganda instruments available to Mr. Putin’s authoritarian regime, the West can promote a fair and factual version of events, but there’s little it can do to make ordinary Russians believe it. Even in a country with relatively unfettered access to the Internet, the monopolistic power of state-controlled media is a potent weapon in the hands of a tyrant.
Mr. Putin’s Big Lie shows why it is important to support a free press where it still exists and outlets like Radio Free Europe that bring the truth to people who need it.”
Yet the truth is that the U.S. mainstream news media’s distortion of the Ukraine crisis is something that a real totalitarian could only dream about. Virtually absent from major U.S. news outlets across the political spectrum has been any significant effort to tell the other side of the story or to point out the many times when the West’s “fair and factual version of events” has been false or deceptive, starting with the issue of who started this crisis.
Blinded to Neo-Nazis
In another example, the Post and other mainstream U.S. outlets have ridiculed the idea that neo-Nazis played any significant role in the putsch that ousted Yanukovych on Feb. 22 or in the Kiev regime’s brutal offensive against the ethnic Russians of eastern Ukraine.
However, occasionally, the inconvenient truth has slipped through. For instance, shortly after the February coup, the BBC described how the neo-Nazis spearheaded the violent seizure of government buildings to drive Yanukovych from power and were then rewarded with four ministries in the regime that was cobbled together in the coup’s aftermath.
When ethnic Russians in the south and east resisted the edicts from the new powers in Kiev, some neo-Nazi militias were incorporated into the National Guard and dispatched to the front lines as storm troopers eager to fight and kill people whom some considered “Untermenschen” or sub-human.
Even The New York Times, which has been among the most egregious violators of journalistic ethics in covering the Ukraine crisis, took note of Kiev’s neo-Nazi militias carrying Nazi banners while leading attacks on eastern cities albeit with this embarrassing reality consigned to the last three paragraphs of a long Times story on a different topic. [See Consortium News’s “NYT Discovers Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis at War.”]
Later, the conservative London Daily Telegraph wrote a much more detailed story about how the Kiev regime had consciously recruited these dedicated storm troopers, who carried the Wolfsangel symbol favored by Hitler’s SS, to lead street fighting in eastern cities that were first softened up by army artillery. [See Consortium News‘s “Ignoring Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers.”]
You might think that unleashing Nazi storm troopers on a European population for the first time since World War II would be a big story given how much coverage is given to far less significant eruptions of neo-Nazi sentiment in Europe but this ugly reality in Ukraine disappeared quickly into the U.S. media’s memory hole. It didn’t fit the preferred good guy/bad guy narrative, with the Kiev regime the good guys and Putin the bad guy.
Now, The Washington Post has gone a step further dismissing Putin’s reference to the nasty violence inflicted by Kiev’s neo-Nazi battalions as part of Putin’s “Big Lie.” The Post is telling its readers that any reference to these neo-Nazis is just a “fantasy.”
Even more disturbing, the mainstream U.S. news media and Washington’s entire political class continue to ignore the Kiev government’s killing of thousands of ethnic Russians, including children and other non-combatants. The “responsibility to protect” crowd has suddenly lost its voice. Or, all the deaths are somehow blamed on Putin for supposedly having provoked the Ukraine crisis in the first place.
A Mysterious ‘Invasion’
And now there’s the curious case of Russia’s alleged “invasion” of Ukraine, another alarmist claim trumpeted by the Kiev regime and echoed by NATO hardliners and the MSM.
While I’m told that Russia did provide some light weapons to the rebels early in the struggle so they could defend themselves and their territory and a number of Russian nationalists have crossed the border to join the fight, the claims of an overt “invasion” with tanks, artillery and truck convoys have been backed up by scant intelligence.
One former U.S. intelligence official who has examined the evidence said the intelligence to support the claims of a significant Russian invasion amounted to “virtually nothing.” Instead, it appears that the ethnic Russian rebels may have evolved into a more effective fighting force than many in the West thought. They are, after all, fighting on their home turf for their futures.
Concerned about the latest rush to judgment about the “invasion,” the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of former U.S. intelligence officials and analysts, took the unusual step of sending a memo to German Chancellor Angela Merkel warning her of a possible replay of the false claims that led to the Iraq War.
“You need to know,” the group wrote, “that accusations of a major Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the ‘intelligence’ seems to be of the same dubious, politically ‘fixed’ kind used 12 years ago to ‘justify’ the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.”
But these doubts and concerns are not reflected in the Post’s editorial or other MSM accounts of the dangerous Ukraine crisis. Indeed, Americans who rely on these powerful news outlets for their information are as sheltered from reality as anyone living in a totalitarian society.
The late investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. He founded Consortium News in 1995 as the first online, independent news site in the United States.
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It’s rather simple: a failed IMF austerity package that Yanukovych rejected. The package contained military cooperation clauses in favor of the Western powers. Y then sought Russian aid, of which Putin offered plenty, albeit at 5% interest with Ukraine buying Billions in cheap Russian energy. Not bad when Ukraine had to pay 14% on international loans.
Y signed the deal, and because of that, the streets soon ran red with blood, all protests sponsored by CIA off-shoots, such as the NED and USAID. Nuland and McCain blessed the fascists in person.
The coup d’etat was on. Russia was about to make inroads on a major energy market and at the same time dissuade Ukraine from a Western military alliance. That was more than the hawks and warmongers could stand. We know what happened next.
The East is in turmoil only because it rejected governance by the unelected coup government in Kiev and instead preferred the status quo of the existing elected government that was on better terms with Moscow.
Yes. Crimea is now Russian, but no one is rebelling, and its economy looks great when compared to that of Ukraine, which sports the weakest currency and poorest economy in all of Europe. Putin took Crimea because he knew that the new leaders would evict his navy and park nuclear aircraft carriers near Russia’s shorelines. But, looking back, didn’t the Crimean Parliament in 1993 reject union with Ukraine, with a tilt toward joining the Russian Federation? 21 years prior to the coup d’etat?
The whole imperial episode is easy to recall and easier to explain. The people in the East had no duty to support the coup, and the leaders in the West no grounds to bring bloodshed upon those who insisted upon some autonomy for the Donbass regions. Every major power worries about its borders, which is why Wilson invaded Mexico when its meager navy wouldn’t properly yield a 21-gun salute at Vera Cruz.
The propagandistic US media has made the whole affair worse, acting as German newspapers might have in 1940. No nuance, just obeisance to the doctrines of NATO expansion and Western imperialism.
Who is realy Commander in Chief?
who and where are all the planning and overall management reside.
We now have a fully integrated military where branch of service plays second fiddle toabilities. Central Comm a nd,.Southern ,command PAcific Co.mamd, SE Asia commandsk North Africa Command, central Africa Command,, and ME com.and enters more or less pirating as eperrate cp in their designate earth positions.
One is as likely to see an Admiral in charge of a command center as an star General.
3ach center has air Force naval, co.bT and armor groups with men of differing inranks And then in US proper there are multiple units, Two Brigades for crowd and urban combat and different S3c Os groups under Dept of Stateand DVD AND ENRRGY..
LAST BUT NOT LEAST IS ARMY OF Virginia a conglomeration ofnmercenary ontractor only responsible to DOD and Sec of State
There are over 1 million merc forces on c a ll.
FIRST TROOps at Katrina was an. South African and two uS and Israel’s
and all under State Contractz.
Portland Oregon now has very large Police Force. A police force that can draw upon tens of thousands I parent company. Made up of ex military and police from all over world.
Conservatives bown getting what they want in Portland, law and order police state.
It’s remarkable that Robert Parry’s analysis has stood the test of time but not surprising. I still consider him a great loss and his perspective on current events is sadly missed but the fact that Consortium News is still alive and well is a testament to his memory and his spirit continues to live on in this publication.
Thank you so much for re issuing this! I will be forwarding it to several people in hopes they get a better idea of what has been happening.
I am so angry about the massive amount of misinformation. I note that every MSM organization says Russia “invaded” Ukraine, and lately even some books and blogs written by people who should know better. I’m speaking of Danny Sjursen’s wonderful book on the True History of America which says Russia invaded Ukraine, and William Astore’s blog also has said that. I admire both these writers who speak from military experience, but they too have succumbed to the Big Lies our MSM constantly tells, when it comes to Russia.
Please continue to publish from your Ukraine archives. Perhaps something from VIPS?
I wish that this article had been reissued before this stage in the extended worsened situation now in Ukraine. Bob Parry has brought to life the terrible lies of that time, the same terrible people like Victoria Nuland who is still sowing discord in the US “diplomatic world”. I had forgotten some of the events (and luckily did not rely on US media) but they were worse than I remember and Bob is one of the few who really laid this out in such stark terms. We see that nothing good has come of the US?NATO?EU interference and should admit the responsibility of Bill Clinton/GWBush for the 600 mile extension of NATO from its agreed end point until all those “nations” became needless Russophobic puppets in a NATO which should be obsolete.
That the U.S. / NATO had no ulterior motives and long range designs in their admitted financing and fomenting of this tragic mess is the worst hypocrisy I can ever recall. A major raison d’être for the neocons gains in the escalation and indemnification of their hatred of all things Russian, and a gateway for their absurd and shameless campaign to at all costs keep us from any meaningful dialogue with our counterparts who only asked to be treated with respect. It’s ‘Russiagate’ then, now, and forever’ with these cretinous and spiteful vengeance-seekers.
The Washington establishment’s plum job public speakers, always bereft of all sincerity, or any vestige of feeling human emotion—Psaki being the reigning queen of such doublespeak—continue with their bland and blithe pronouncements as if speaking to children in a Sunday School. With the fate of the world resting on doom-filled hair triggers generated by the actions of truly disturbed (mentally ill) leadership, they play act as if “Everything is under control, trust us” even as their game playing with adversaries they themselves manufactured grows ever more potentially deadly. It is a fools errand these provocations engender, yet they relent not, not one inch in this blood red pool of jeopardy they continue to provoke.
Their lies evince innocence of intent while incessantly vilifying Ukraine’s eastern neighbor. I can hear them now:
“It’s all Russia’s fault. We would never ever do anything underhanded in our bringing democracy to Ukraine.
Imagine, they accused us of having designs on the naval base at Sevastopol, cutting Russia’s warm water fleet off from its just recently renegotiated long term lease of its base. Can you imagine anything so patently absurd?”
(Check the date on this US Naval contracting form. And the location of the work to be performed.) Cocky enough…?
The moment any individual tries to justify the use any of nuclear weapons that individual should be considered insane by any and all standards. Lock him away for his illness cannot be overcame.
SEE: The world renowned Mutually Assured Destruction wiki:
As coined by Donald Brennan while working at “Herman Kahn’s Hudson Institute in 1962”.
“However Brennan came up with this acronym ironically, to argue that holding weapons capable of destroying society was irrational.”
SEE NOTE:  Javis, Robert 2002 Mutually Assured Destruction, Foreign Policy (magazine?) see the notation for yourself, This is near the top of the page.
Note the term irrational, the reference to the Foreign Policy magazine and now think about this phrase.
Mutually Assured Destruction is a mad mans folly, i. e. a lack of good sense, foolishness.
This is a problem that arises from the efforts of men trying to justify their own foolish ideas abput weapons that could kill the rest of us.
Time to rid ourselves of this guaranteed end to humanity.
As I have written endless times these people present a clear and present danger to the rest of us. Them and their irrationals thoughts.
Oh Robert! How we miss you!
Cited WP editorial:
In short, private media of the West, together with state owned media like BBC or Radio Svoboda are creating and perpetuating phantasies and omissions (inconvenient facts are blotted out) and dominate what people in the West believe. In the same time, people in Russia, and perhaps China (I do not know Chinese) have more accurate and varied information. Ukraine happens to be on the “frontline”, they may access information from either side, creating a land with two mutually hostile narratives.
Interestingly, the distortions described by Parry in 2014 faded away. Currently, Ukraine is almost erased from the Western information stream except for the bare essentials: they love freedom, Russia for inexplicable reasons prepares aggression. In that vein, German highly read newspaper Bild had a map of that aggression with many fanciful arrows, three or four phases, with zero references to Ukrainian forces — Russian aggression is depicted as Putin picking places and dates for Russian forces to visit. Absolutely no references that Ukraine does possess military that is numerically superior to the alleged “invasion force”. Another newspaper has a map with its own fanciful arrows, and identical absence of Ukrainian forces.
One reason for that absence is that inconvenient facts are absolutely erased from dissemination. And ca. 50% of Ukrainian military is stationed on the trench lines with “separatists” on the other side, perhaps 25% near the western end of Ukraine, and the balance is indeed leaving the bulk of territory unprotected. Thinking about it, and the insane reason for it could be unhealthy for the feeble minded Western public — does Ukrainian government try to assure that it will loose in a big way?
Although logic is not reliable guide here, one explanation is that Ukrainian command concentrated huge force against Donbas to create a credible danger, thus forcing Russian to bring their troops to the borders, and therefore enable “inexplicable threat” narrative that USA needs. But they are not afraid of the actual Russian invasion, so no need to prepare for it.