PATRICK LAWRENCE: Appointment in Samarkand

Western coverage of last week’s summit in Uzbekistan brings us face-to-face with the extent to which Americans are not supposed to see the world turning. 

Samarkand, Ukbekistan, at night. (Pixabay)

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

Only in America, Land of Opportunists, can you awaken on an early autumn Sunday to a headline such as this in our once-but-no-longer newspaper of record: “The U.S. Vowed to Defend Central American Democracy. Autocrats Had Other Plans.”

Sit with this for a few moments, readers. Let yourselves laugh, or do the other thing, or maybe you will do some of both, as I did.

Now we can consider how the Western press reported the summit of non­–Western powers in Samarkand last week and what went on when Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, met with Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi, his Chinese and Indian counterparts.  

Once again we find that The New York Times is perfectly willing to tell us the nighttime is not dark, the sky is not blue, and water does not run from faucets. Once again the elite cliques the Times speaks for do not want us to understand the world as it truly is.

The gathering last Thursday and Friday in Uzbekistan was the 22nd session of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a conference of Asian and Central Asian nations China set in motion in 2001 — or in 1996, if we count a modest forerunner called the S–5. At present the SCO has eight members — China, Russia, the Central Asian republics, India and Pakistan — plus the old Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and lots of observers and “dialogue partners.”

Last week’s summit was notable for a few reasons. As was anticipated, Iran and Belarus were welcomed as new members, which will expand the SCO to 10 when they fully accede. The Islamic Republic’s membership is especially significant, as it brings Iran into what amounts to an increasingly influential coalescence of Eurasian nations, aligns it with Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative and Moscow’s Eurasian Economic Union, and opens it to new means of transcending Washington’s persecutory sanctions regime.   

It is also worth noting that Turkey was in attendance as one of nine dialogue partners. Ankara’s intentions are not yet clear, as it is rarely clear what President Recep Erdogan will do next, but finding the inconstant Erdogan in a forum of non–Western powers raises questions as to the medium-term allegiances of a longtime U.S. ally, a NATO member and an applicant for European Union membership.

The world turns, after all, whether or not Americans are supposed to notice.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand, Uzbekistan 2022. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Putin-Xi Talks

The very biggest deals in Samarkand last week were the talks Putin had individually with Xi and Modi. Remember from here on out, the Pope isn’t Catholic and bears don’t defecate in the woods.

The Putin–Xi talks were the umpteenth encounter between the two — they must be up around 40 summits by now — but it was their first face-to-face since Russia intervened in Ukraine last February and marked Xi’s first journey outside China since the Covid–19 pandemic hit in 2020.

Here is how the Times began its report — from a great distance, as it had no one in Samarkand — under the headline, “Putin Nods to Xi’s ‘Concerns,’ and the Limits of Their Cooperation”:

“Rather than put on a show of Eurasian unity against the West as Russia struggled to recover from last week’s humiliating military retreat in northeastern Ukraine, the two leaders struck discordant notes in their public remarks — and Mr. Xi made no mention of Ukraine at all.

‘We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends in connection with the Ukrainian crisis,’ Mr. Putin said in televised remarks at the start of the meeting. ‘We understand your questions and concerns in this regard.’ ”

Questions and concerns, limits, discordant notes: Wow. There is trouble in River City. What we have here, the Times wants us to know, are signs of a major breach in the much-remarked Sino–Russian partnership. We’re back with Vlad the Isolated. Xi’s preoccupation was to calm the nerves of the others in attendance, nervous as they were that the megalomaniacal Russian leader was coming next for them:

“China is seeking to offer rhetorical reassurances to former Soviet republics in Central Asia that have been made uneasy by the Ukraine war — an invasion that signaled to some that Mr. Putin is prepared to use force to try to rebuild the Soviet empire.”

What a mess it must have been in Samarkand. A ghoulish wannabe czar, his best friend giving him the silent treatment, knees knocking all around the conference table.

China’s President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Everyone climbed on board for this one. The Wall Street Journal: “Russia’s Vladimir Putin Says China’s Xi Jinping Raised ‘Concerns’ on Ukraine War.” Politico: “Putin admits China has ‘questions’ and ‘concerns’ about Ukraine War.” CNBC: “Putin admits China has ‘concerns’ over Ukraine invasion.”

I’ve always loved mainstream media for their diversity, their courageous determination to think things through for themselves and call ’em as they see ’em.

These same publications and networks set to once more after Putin and Modi conferred. “I know that today’s era is not of war,” the Indian PM remarked. “Today we will get a chance to discuss how we can move forward on the path of peace.”

Isolating Russia on World Stage

Wow again. In two sentences Modi “underlined Russia’s widening isolation on the world stage,” the Times reported. And then:

“The televised critique by Mr. Modi at a regional summit in Uzbekistan came just a day after Mr. Putin acknowledged that Xi Jinping, China’s leader, had “questions and concerns” about the war.

Taken together, the distancing from Mr. Putin by the heads of the world’s two most populous countries—both of which have been pivotal to sustaining Russia’s economy in the face of Western sanctions—punctured the Kremlin’s message that Russia was far from a global pariah.”

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Once again, Western media reported this like a well-rehearsed church choir. Reuters had it that Modi “assailed” Putin on the Ukraine question. Newsweek — those delicate people — noted that Modi “skips hug with Putin.”

Putin the Unloved, Putin who is a pariah after all. What is more, it looks as if China’s and India’s cooperation since the Feb. 24 intervention may be on the way to drying up. I’ll bet Putin wishes he never went anywhere near Samarkand, disastrous as his time there proved.

Let us follow my old rule: We read The New York Times to find out what we are supposed to think happened. Then we must go in search of what happened.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019. (Kremlin, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

In this case we need go no further than the Kremlin web site, which is very good with its translations and transcripts of major occasions, and a few Indian and Chinese sources.

Here is the readout of the Putin–Xi encounter and here is its readout of the Putin–Modi exchange. Here is a report on the former in Global Times, the English-language newspaper published by People’s Daily, and here is New Delhi’s account of Modi’s conversation with Putin.

These readouts and reports line up well, each confirming the accuracy of its counterpart. What we find, first, is that the quotations the Western press seized upon and ran frenzied miles with were taken radically out of context with the perfectly evident intention of misleading readers and viewers.

We find, second, third, and fourth, expressions of friendship, pledges of solidarity, and declarations of commitment to the common cause of constructing the new world order Putin and Xi have spoken of, together and separately, since that remarkable document they issued jointly on the eve of the Beijing Winter Olympics in early February.

Xi to Putin, according to Moscow’s readout:

“In the face of ongoing formidable global changes that have never been seen in history, we are ready to work with our Russian colleagues to set an example of what a responsible global power is and assume leadership in order to bring the rapidly changing world onto a path of sustainable and positive development.”

Here is Modi to Putin, according to India’s Ministry of External Affairs:

“The relationship between India and Russia has deepened manifold. We also value this relationship because we have been such friends who have been with each other every moment for the last several decades and the whole world also knows how Russia’s relationship with India has been and how India’s relationship with Russia has been and therefore the world also knows that it is an unbreakable friendship.”

And so on in many variations throughout these documents. The Global Times headline: “Xi, Putin meet at SCO summit, forging closer ties amid U.S.–caused world turbulence.”

What is there to say about what we are supposed to think happened and what was said in Samarkand and what actually transpired? I have two nominees.

One, never in my long decades in the Great Craft have I seen such brazen editorial corruption as we have here. The reports we read in the Times and all the publications that follow the Times’ lead like pilot fish alongside a whale are 180° upside down from the readily available truth. Lies, obfuscations, omissions, and the like are nothing new in traditional media. This seems a new low.

Two, the reporting on the Samarkand conference — as against from it — brings us face to face with the extent to which Americans are confined in a state of ignorance in matters of global importance. We are not supposed to see the world turning.

Eurasian Unity

Halford Mackinder, undated. (Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science, Wikimedia Commons)

The SCO is dedicated to Eurasian unity and is of a piece with the famous World Island thesis of Halford MacKinder, who postulated in 1904 that the Eurasian landmass was destined to emerge as “the geographical pivot of history.” The Eurasian Economic Union, the Belt and Road Initiative, the SCO: These are the organizational hardware as this turn of history’s wheel comes to be.

Of this we read next to nothing last week — passing remarks and no more, and certainly no substantive analysis. The Putin–Xi and Putin–Modi talks could not be ignored in this fashion, so they had to be distorted quite literally beyond recognition.

Both of those bilaterals were, in fact, key setbacks for Washington — and hence, of course, the distortion. The Biden regime has long fantasized that it can disrupt the waxing partnership between Moscow and Beijing. The U.S. has deluded itself even longer that New Delhi, which honors Nehru’s principle of nonalignment as if it is a sacrament, can be turned against Beijing and Moscow alike.

What we’ve just watched is the extent of these delusions. Let us, then, simply extend these delusions further, for those purporting to lead our republic simply cannot handle the 21st century as it unfolds before us, and we must not see what they refuse to accept.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site.  His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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16 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: Appointment in Samarkand

  1. Damian Cano
    September 23, 2022 at 21:06

    Here an example of what he speaks:

    “Pushing back. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed to signal a shift in India’s posture on the war in Ukraine in a meeting with his Russian counterpart, FP’s Sumit Ganguly writes.” From FP, house organ.

    I only read FP’s headlines because of the firewall and because what follows is lockstep drivel from the likes of McFaul. Walt is worth a read, but he posts infrequently and I usually find it posted elsewhere.

    Excellent work, beautiful, incisive writing and analysis. God help us all.

  2. Dr. Hujjatullah M.H.Babu Sahib
    September 23, 2022 at 00:20

    As a highly resposible leader veey much like Putin and Xi, Erdogan has to be inconstant like Putin and both justifiably so I may say; Both Russia and Turkey straddles TWO worlds, Europe and Asia and I mean not just geographically. Torn between two worlds they have to be inconstant, if they want to remain relevant and responsible to both. By the way, the article was superb in exposing the hypocrisy and ideological obduracy of the Western mainstream media and its biased and blinkered elite backers, if not also the West itself !

  3. Drew Hunkins
    September 22, 2022 at 15:35

    This is a marvelous article.

    PL is now must-reading.

    • Arch Stanton
      September 22, 2022 at 19:25

      Totally agree.
      I wish the masses could read this (although even if they did there would be a sizeable majority that would reject it as it doesn’t conform to their brainwashed MSM-derived world view!

      • Drew Hunkins
        September 23, 2022 at 00:42

        Very true.

  4. Caliman
    September 22, 2022 at 14:57

    In our Empire of Narrative, of course, reality is just a sideshow … utterly unimportant in the grand scheme of things. What matters is that the narrative managers of the west not lose the plot and continue to build the corrupt matrix of lies the system needs to stagger along. Another day, another few billion you see …

    But things that cannot go on forever don’t. Alternate arrangements are being made, ones to which we are only peripherally connected. Ones that will sideline us from the main conversation.

  5. Jeff Harrison
    September 22, 2022 at 12:21

    I loved @forceofHabit’s comment.
    I think that the whole of the Washington regime has bought into Karl Rove’s BS line: We are an empire now and we make our own reality. Another way of putting that is: if we say it, it will be so. Sadly, it isn’t working out that way. Partially that is because the BS coming out of DC notwithstanding, most of the rest of the world is not all in on the US’s get Russia campaign. Partially it is a result of media consolidation so that we only have a handful of real media outlets with the vast bulk of them merely being stenographers for the Washington regime.
    The regimes in Washington and various European capitals are desperate for Russia to be humiliated here because they all set this up. Memo to the NYT: retreat describes the departure of a military force because it wants to prevent getting its ass beat. Withdrawal (which is what the Russians actually did) just means that the military force leaves. They haven’t fled (which is what we actually did in Afghanistan).
    The disconnect from reality is breathtaking. On the one hand “The West” is now claiming that Russia’s military is a paper tiger but interestingly, every time the Ukrainians attack (typically using Western supplied weapons), they get handed their ass. Of course, Ukrainian propaganda (echoed by the likes of the NYT) claims otherwise. The other part of this pie is that everybody seems to forget that Russia didn’t mobilize for their special operation but the Ukraine was fully mobilized to make yet another attack on the Donbass provinces and they still got their ass kicked (translation: there were a whole lot more Ukrainian troops in the field that Russian ones)

  6. Guilherme
    September 22, 2022 at 09:58

    Biden, one of them, maintained by institutions, extends Bush’s National Emergency! Nobody really knows who this man is. New normal!

  7. September 22, 2022 at 06:51

    When the great MSM can’t be bothered to even show up in Samarkand for something as significant as this, one realizes just how pathetic they really are. (Not that we didn’t already know.) I can envision the assigned writer using the “find” feature on his/her browser to look for the word “concern” and a few other catchy keywords with which to spin their preordained headlines. That they copy each other so closely tells us all we need to know about their total lack of objectivity.

    Thank you PL for this clear and concise connection to reality.

  8. WillD
    September 22, 2022 at 01:50

    The mainstream media in the collective west seems to be in a race to see who can come up with the best fiction and fantasy.

    For a long time now, it has stopped ‘letting the facts get in the way of a good story’, and has moved towards a fictional reality that is not only patently untrue and utterly devoid of relevant facts, but has increasingly become delusional, as the author quite rightly points out. It knows that the vast majority of its readers and listeners aren’t going to do any further research, that they are content just to lap up whatever they are fed.

    What does this say about the journalists that write this rubbish, and more importantly what does this say about the readers & listeners that naively and unquestioningly believe it? Nothing good in both cases.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      September 22, 2022 at 11:43

      Agreed. I might add that those who write the rubbish are not “journalists” in any true sense of the word.

  9. firstpersoninfinite
    September 21, 2022 at 23:39

    Excellent observations, Patrick Lawrence. When the media must lie to you to sustain a narrative, divorce is imminent. Forget democracy. Forced compliance is now the only path forward. Americans are like children crying at the sun for having risen again during a drought – a drought which we ourselves engineered. The piquancy of our madness is the new Esperanto. Every other alternative is gibberish.

  10. CNfan
    September 21, 2022 at 20:19

    The uniformity of the brazen lies across the corporate media is clear evidence that these corporations constitute a monopoly controlled by a single, secret source. And this source wants to deceive the American public and create war. Therefore this source is obviously an enemy of the American people. So are its accomplices in the corporate press, and in politics.

    As someone who took an oath to defend the US Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic, it looks to me like the press and politicians who serve this secretive source are, technically speaking, traitors. America needs a thorough housecleaning.

    • Common Sense
      September 23, 2022 at 19:06

      “America needs a thorough housecleaning.”

      That could be very useful for quite a number of western “value” countries ;)

  11. forceOfHabit
    September 21, 2022 at 19:27

    “I’ve always loved mainstream media for their diversity, their courageous determination to think things through for themselves and call ’em as they see ’em.”


    “We read The New York Times to find out what we are supposed to think happened. Then we must go in search of what happened.”

    Nailed it. The NYT is the new Pravda. Indie media is the new samizdat.

    • Marie-France Germain
      September 22, 2022 at 12:49

      I liked that line too! But for me it brought to mind reading the Brothers Grimm. Why bother reading fairy tales when you can find tons of monsters and beasts and cruel leaders in our US/NATO presses – pick anyone, they all read exactly the same for anything the master wishes to be said.

      Unfortunately, the press really reads like a smash up of Animal Farm (Orwell), 1984 (Orwell), A Clockwork Orange (Kubrik) and The Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien). That is a true monster!

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