Turn on your receiver,
I’m gonna lay it on the line;
‘cause I’m a great believer
in hangin’ on to what is mine
So come over here and listen;
I don’t want you to be missin’
What I say:
And I ain’t gonna waste my time
sayin’ it all again:
Turn on your receiver,
There’s a message comin’ through…
Nazareth, from “Turn On Your Receiver”
This blog has been running for about five years now, long enough for me to think back a little nostalgically on why I started it. I had become fed up, like many others, with the relentlessly negative coverage of Russia in the English-speaking press, and some of it I knew to be false from having been there. Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, was singled out for particularly constant vitriol, and the descriptions of him as a money-grubbing plunderer and authoritarian dictator are greatly at odds with his public appearances. The silly trope that he is the richest man in Europe, and possibly the world, on money he has stolen from the Russian people has been debunked time and again – yet the western press, particularly in the UK, tirelessly and patiently rebuilds the legend of his breathtakingly-opulent Italianate palace, his penchant for crazy-money wristwatches, his secret shares of Russian energy companies and his equally-secret gymnast lover whom his nepotism has granted political office, so she will be close by in case he fancies a quick knee-trembler up against the wall in between hiking taxes on pensioners and giving himself another pay raise.
I started out cautiously, being only mildly critical, bearing in mind that I am a westerner myself and that on the whole, I like living where I live – I have no intention of fleeing to Moscow to be an angry dissident. I kept as my credo that once the press began to show some fairness, and once its coverage of Russia and Putin became somewhat more in line with the way it complains about everyone else, I would stop. I have things to do, after all.
But it didn’t improve. If anything, it got more strident and hectoring and comically absurd, I often wondered why people didn’t just burst into laughter and say, “Enough!” It’s so predictable now; prior to the winter Olympics at Sochi, the western press could not even show up for work without painting its car and its clothing and itself in the colours of the rainbow, and the drumbeat message was all-gay, all the time – Putin despised homosexuals, he had authored and approved draconian anti-gay laws so that the poor gay people could not even express their love for one another without being arrested and sent to prison. No examples were given, of course, because it was all another western tempest in a teapot, and I said several times, you watch; as soon as Sochi is over with, the gay issue is going to get dropped like a hot rock. And it was – don’t hear a word about it now, do you? It served its purpose, or served at least the effort to get the Olympics taken away from Russia and held someplace more gay. But the press lost interest as soon as that cause was hopeless, and as soon as it was no longer useful to make people stay away.
The west persistently and comically miscasts and misrepresents both Russia and its leader, and it has a captive audience because Russia makes only limited inroads on the English-speaking domain, mostly through RT, and even that is too much for the west and it regularly threatens to revoke its license because of all its “propaganda”. Meanwhile the U.S. State Department is caught lying on almost a daily basis in its media conferences, and confesses to relying on social media and activists’ reports to build its intelligence picture. Most recently, it has stood by NATO ally Turkey after that country shot down a Russian military aircraft which even the Turks stipulate was in its airspace for a total of 17 seconds. There is some doubt it was in Turkish airspace at all. As recently as 2012, when the Syrians shot down a Turkish F-4 which they said had violated Syrian airspace, Recep Erdogan – now President and then Prime Minister – grated angrily that a penetration of another country’s airspace which was of a short duration was “never an excuse for an attack”. Except now it is. Accusations by Putin that Turkey is involved in the illegal trafficking of oil stolen by ISIL or ISIS or Daesh, or whatever acronym we’re going to settle on, were backed up by solid satellite and video imagery. But they were airily dismissed by Washington, which would not stipulate even to having seen the evidence, referring to it as “pictures the Russians allegedly showed”.
The west does not listen. It is stuck permanently on “transmit”, and is too busy loudly broadcasting its own narrative and inventing ever-more-bloodcurdling tales to pay any attention to what Russia is saying. It has its fingers in its ears to prevent it from hearing anything which is at odds with The Narrative, and is so determined not to listen that it has gradually ceded the moral high ground, international law and global respect in exchange for a lot of roaring and screaming which it hopes will cover it until it has gotten its way. There will be time later to make believe that it was all about freedom and democracy.
Well, turn on your receiver, muttonheads. It might be your last chance.
So I was reminded upon reading a post sent to me by our resident Australian, or one of them, Jennifer Hor. This is a piece she did on Putin’s speech to the Final Plenary Session of the Valdai International Discussion Club, back in October of this year. Contrast Putin’s message of peaceful reconstruction and empowerment of the national population in Syria with the west’s cries to smash it and reapportion it so that various players get their own states, which can be set at convenience to warring with one another, a recipe for endless conflict. Jen?
“Compared to his speech at XI Meeting in 2014, this 2015 speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t quite as ground-breaking; but it is full of fire nevertheless. In his speech, Putin spiked the United States government and its elites for following a path that has not only led to war and instability around the world, and continues to do so, but which has the potential to spread poverty, ignorance, distrust and a degraded culture as well, one that celebrates and encourages even more chaos and brutality.
The theme of the XII Meeting was war and peace, and Putin had plenty to say about the current global drive towards war, driven in the main by the United States and its allies. Starting from a general perspective on the role of war as a catalyst for relieving tensions and re-organising and establishing new political, social and economic hierarchies in the world, Putin observed how the threat of war diminished in the period after the end of World War II in 1945 – a period in which diplomacy under the threat of nuclear war prevailed – until the Cold War ended in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. Since then, diplomacy as a tool for resolving long-simmering tensions and conflicts has increasingly fallen by the wayside and the use of force by the United States to achieve its aims in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, has come to be the first resort. Along with this flexing of military muscle and the chaos, violence and brutality that have followed, comes the creation of economic blocs, based on neo-liberal economic ideologies, between and among nations with the signing of treaties whose details and implications are deliberately hidden away from the public and never discussed or mentioned until long after the ink used to sign the documents has dried. At the same time, governments, corporations and the media actively seek to withhold and censor information, analysis and opinion that oppose the aims of their agendas; plus they use databases and database networks to gather and share information about citizens and their families for various purposes which can include blackmail, psychological manipulation, marketing and pushing products and services for profit. Constant wars against terrorists and terrorist movements – themselves the consequence of US-led invasions of countries (and in the case of ISIS, possibly the creation of the US government and its agencies, to serve as a substitute army keeping Middle Eastern countries weak and divided) – result in the displacement of people in those countries, leading them to flee in their thousands to Western countries, usually by any means available (no matter how hazardous and expensive), which are not only reluctant to offer safe haven to them but actively and aggressively throw them back into the seas or imprison them in detention centres where they face abuse, violence and death from fellow refugees or prison guards working under stress. The refugee crisis is used by Western governments to whip up hatred and prejudice against refugees, and to encourage and escalate public support for more invasions of the countries being destabilised to “stop” the refugee flow.
Putin singled out the example of Syria where the process of regime change, starting in 2011 with the aim of ousting President Bashar al Assad, in ways similar to the Kiev Maidan revolution against President Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine over 2013 and early 2014, is in full swing with takfiri fighters belonging to groups such as Islamic State, Jabhat al Nusra and other al Qa’ida offshoots, all funded and armed by foreign governments, fighting the Syrian Arab Army. Putin observed that such terrorist groups are hard to fight if they are being used as a de facto army to overthrow governments that, coincidentally, the US and its friends do not like.
Putin went on to say that Russia launched a military operation in the form of airstrikes on the Islamic extremists at the request of the Syrian government. Russia understands that if the terrorists in Syria win, they will send many of their number to Russia itself, in particular into the vulnerable region of Dagestan and its surrounds. Putin emphasized that the world must support the revival of Syria and Iraq, and assist in their reconstruction and revitalization of their institutions. A plan must be developed for these countries’ reconstruction, for the restoration of their infrastructures, their hospitals, housing and schools. This is an opportunity for all countries throughout the world to come together and offer assistance to these two long-suffering nations. What is most noteworthy about Putin’s speech at this point is its emphasis on the Syrian people as the major party in deciding Syria’s future and deserving respect, civil treatment and autonomy in the decisions they make about their institutions and future from the rest of the world.
While the theme of the XII Meeting may have been war and peace, the theme of Putin’s speech is that for peace to reign, nations must co-operate together, respect one another and trust one another and in the rule of international law. This is very much a speech that follows from his speech at the XI Meeting in 2014. The fact that Putin ended his 2015 speech by speaking of renewal, restoration, hope and opportunity, and the hard work that must be done to achieve revival, demonstrates that he and his government are looking beyond helping Syria get rid of ISIS and other terrorists, and stabilising the country. An opportunity for Syria to become a model of reconstruction, renewal and reconciliation for the Middle East and the wider world is present and ready for the taking. How many Western politicians can be said to be as forward-looking as Putin? Given the way in which the US has blundered in the Middle East and north Africa over the past decade and how Germany brought chaos and confusion when it offered a haven to thousands of Syrian refugees stuck in Turkey, with no apparent thought for how to bring them over or how they would be settled, it seems that having a vision of the future and achieving it is something beyond Western leaders’ capabilities – to the detriment of the West.”