If you have "no place to go," come here!

Robert Parry: Latest US Govt/Media Demonization Game re Ukraine

Robert Parry writes in “Cheering a ‘Democratic’ Coup in Ukraine”:

There was always a measure of hypocrisy but Official Washington used to at least pretend to stand for “democracy,” rather than taking such obvious pleasure in destabilizing elected governments, encouraging riots, overturning constitutional systems and then praising violent putsches.

But events in Ukraine and Venezuela suggest that the idea of respecting the results of elections and working within legal, albeit flawed, political systems is no longer in vogue, unless the “U.S. side” happens to win, of course. If the “U.S. side” loses, then it’s time for some “shock doctrine.” And, of course, the usual demonizing of the “enemy” leader.

Parry concedes that Viktor Yanukovych was a flawed politician, no argument, but he maintains the existing politicians controlling the Ukraine are a collection of oligarchs vying for power. Parry stresses that the imperfect Yanukovych was ELECTED in what was a “reasonably fair election in 2012.” The realpolitik issue:

But Yanukovych sought to maintain cordial relations with neighboring Russia, which apparently rubbed American neocons the wrong way. Official Washington’s still-influential neocons have been livid with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin because he cooperated with U.S. President Barack Obama in averting U.S. wars against Iran and Syria.

Putin helped avert US wars against Iran and Syria! And yet, soon after, the US government and media have ramped up the demonization of Putin!

Two allies of the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are clamoring for US military intervention in Iran and Syria. Much to their frustration and the frustration of US neocons, Putin encouraged Iran to negotiate a nuclear program without nuclear weapons. Putin convinced the Syrian government to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal.

Internationally speaking Putin has become a serious peace-promoter for conflict resolution. Putin is a flawed leader, again, no argument, but Instead of working with him on these positive developments, the US government and US media have set about to demonize him and make him the latest of what Parry calls a “designated villain.” This is right out of the US/NATO imperialism shock-doctrine promoting playbook.

Parry writes:

So, Putin found himself in the center of the neocons’ bulls-eye and – given some of his own unforced errors such as defending Russia’s intolerance toward gays and spending excessively on the Sochi Olympics – he became the latest “designated villain,” denounced and ridiculed across the neocon-dominated op-ed pages of the Washington Post and other major news outlets.

"The idea seems to be to cement in the minds of impressionable Americans that it is okay for the U.S. government to support the overthrow of democratically elected presidents if they have flaws."

Even NBC, from its treasured spot as the network of the Olympic Games, felt it had no choice but to denounce Putin in an extraordinary commentary delivered by anchor Bob Costas. Once the demonizing ball gets rolling everyone has to join in or risk getting run over, too.

Parry stresses that this negative Putin-commentary “set the stage” for what is now happening in the Ukraine.

Ukraine President Yanukovych’s sin in the eyes of the west was his rejection of a contractual relationship with the European Union which was insisting the Ukraine commit to an economic reforming austerity plan “dictated by the International Monetary Fund.” Yanukovych resisted the plan and turned to Russia for economic help. Russia was offering the Ukraine a $15 billion loan. Russia was also providing discounted natural gas to the Ukraine. Of course, the latest uproar has ended that deal for the Ukraine. Has that been addressed amidst all the latest pro-Ukraine coup hype?

The Ukraine has ethnic Russians in the east and Ukrainians identifying more with Europe and the US in the west. But according to Parry, protesters of the western Ukraine along with far-right militant nationalists saw the economic dilemma of Yanukovych between the EU offer and Russia's as an EXCUSE to overthrow an elected government.

Parry writes:

Police efforts to quell the disturbances turned violent, with the police not the only culprits. Police faced armed neo-Nazi storm troopers who attacked with firebombs and other weapons
Though the U.S. news media did show scenes of these violent melees, the U.S. press almost universally blamed Yanukovych – and took almost gleeful pleasure as his elected government collapsed and was replaced by thuggish right-wing militias “guarding” government buildings.

With Yanukovych and many of his supporters fleeing for their lives, the opposition parties seized control of parliament and began passing draconian new laws often unanimously, as neo-Nazi thugs patrolled the scene. Amazingly, the U.S. news media treated all this as uplifting, a popular uprising against a tyrant, not a case of a coup government operating in collusion with violent extremists.

In the upside-down world that has become the U.S. news media, the democratically elected president was a dictator and the coup makers who overthrew the popularly chosen leader were “pro-democracy” activists.

Let’s repeat that final paragraph!

In the upside-down world that has become the U.S. news media, the democratically elected president was a dictator and the coup makers who overthrew the popularly chosen leader were “pro-democracy” activists.

Civil law and international law are certainly being given short shrift by the mainstream media-supported Obama administration just as they were in the Bush regime. International law and respect for the sovereignty of other countries should be a priority to the United States and other NATO nations. They are clearly NOT! Look at the profoundly amoral drone program. Look at the trail of US so-called humanitarian intervention carnage and destruction.

Parry explains that the capital of the Ukraine, Kiev, is in a region dominated by western Ukrainians, but the “RUSSIAN-ALLIED UKRAINIANS REPRESENT MOST OF THE POPULATION.” This is one of the reasons Yanukovych was elected asserts Parry. His good will toward Russia the majority of Ukrainians were comfortable with.

The right wing militias in the Ukraine have historical anger against the Russians and Jewish people. The right wing militias were the particular “protesters” who forcibly seized control of many of Kiev government buildings. Yanukovych, along with other government legislators, undoubtedly feared being captured and executed. Not an unrealistic fear. What will happen now with extreme fascists vying for control of Ukraine's helm?

Once again, the “ends-justify-the-means” mentality dominates US government and consequently big media thinking. American ECONOMIC interests are served as well as Americean MILITARY strategic interests by weakening or destroying the alliance of the Ukraine with Russia. Does the welfare of the Ukrainian people seriously matter to our US government? Did the people's welfare seriously matter in Iraq? In Afghanistan? In Libya? In Syria? Seriously! Is our country really promoting peace in the world or shock-doctrine disaster capitalism and profiteering imperialism? There seems a predominant shallow, blood-lust titillating, white hat good guys vs. black hat bad guys, American exceptionalism skewed perspective perpetually being promoted.

Parry writes:

But the U.S. press corps can’t get beyond its demonization of Putin and Yanukovych. The neocon Washington Post has been almost euphoric over the coup, as expressed in a Feb. 24 editorial:

“Ukraine has shaken off its corrupt president and the immediate prospect of domination by Russia — but at the risk of further conflict. The decision by Viktor Yanukovych to flee Kiev over the weekend triggered the disintegration of his administration and prompted parliament to replace him and schedule elections for May.


“There remain two big threats to this positive outcome. One is that Ukraine’s finances will collapse in the absence of a bailout from Russia or the West. The other is that the country will split along geographic lines as Russian speakers in the east of the country, perhaps supported by Moscow, reject the new political order.”

The Post continued, “What’s not clear is whether Mr. Putin would accept a Ukraine that is not under the Kremlin’s thumb. The first indications are not good: Though Mr. Putin has been publicly silent about Ukraine since Friday, the rhetoric emanating from his government has been angry and belligerent. A foreign ministry statement Monday alleged that ‘a course has been set to use dictatorial and sometimes terrorist methods to suppress dissenters in various regions.’”

So, the Washington Post’s editors consider the violent overthrow of a democratically elected president to be “democratic” and take comfort in “democratic” actions by a legislature, despite the curious lack of any no votes and the fact that this balloting has occurred under the watchful eye of neo-Nazi storm troopers patrolling government offices. And, according to the Post, the Russian government is unhinged to detect “dictatorial and sometimes terrorist methods.”


Parry goes on to take on The New York Times editorial pages, asserting that they were “only slightly less celebratory” about the coup of a democratically elected president.

From the NYT:

The venal president of Ukraine is on the run and the bloodshed has stopped, but it is far too early to celebrate or to claim that the West has ‘won’ or that Russia has ‘lost.’ ...

So where is the welfare of the Ukrainian people factored in seriously?


There has been, of course, a long and inglorious history of the U.S. government supporting the overthrow of elected governments: Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Allende in Chile in 1973, Aristide in Haiti twice, Chavez in Venezuela briefly in 2002, Zelaya in Honduras in 2009, Morsi in Egypt in 2013, and others. After Yanukovych, the next target of these U.S.-embraced “democratic” coups looks to be Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.

Parry points out that the modus operandi of mainstream US news is to “obsess over perceived flaws in the ousted leaders.”

On Wednesday, for instance, the New York Times made much of an unfinished presidential palace in Ukraine, calling it “a fugitive leader’s folly.” The idea seems to be to cement in the minds of impressionable Americans that it is okay for the U.S. government to support the overthrow of democratically elected presidents if they have flaws.

The outcomes for the people of these countries that are “saved” from their imperfect leaders, however, often tend to be quite ugly. Usually, they experience long periods of brutal repression at the hands of dictators, but that typically happens outside the frame of the U.S. news media’s focus or interest. Those unhappy countries fade from view almost as quickly as they were thrust to center stage, next to the demonization of their elected leaders.

How long will we Americans bobble our heads before this demonization game-playing? How long will we be served up shallow, amoral and manipulative news-”manufacturing” as in “manufacturing consent” of events that should be critically examined and often, deservedly, protested by us and the rest of humankind?

[cross-posted on open salon]

No votes yet