Editorial Malpractise

Comment by Mark Ames 

The Nation  December 10, 2008 

Over the past few years, the Washington Post‘s editorial page has pushed an increasingly hostile line toward Russia, painting complex developments there in Manichaean terms and accusing the Kremlin–and usually Vladimir Putin–of responsibility for just about anything that goes wrong, real or imagined, in that part of the world. During the recent war between Russia and Georgia, Post editorials placed the blame squarely on alleged Russian neo-imperialism, going so far as to deny that the Georgians had inflicted serious destruction on the South Ossetian capital, despite reports from human rights organizations, the OSCE and even the Post‘s own journalists. This hardline, deeply flawed position by one of the nation’s most influential editorial pages has played a leading role in driving America and Russia to the brink of a new cold war.   

A hyperbolic October 22 lead editorial, “More Poison: Another prominent adversary of Vladimir Putin is mysteriously exposed to toxins,” led me to ask the Post‘s editorial page editor and onetime Moscow bureau co-chief, Fred Hiatt, about his sources for the paper’s charges. Hiatt’s painstaking response unintentionally offered a rare glimpse into how, when it comes to Russia and Putin, the editorial page’s incessant demonization puts more weight on ideology than on journalistic professionalism–or simple fact-checking. …full article

A Message to Zbigniew Brzezinski: Stop Blaming Russia for being Russian!

It was when we read Rich Barlow’s Boston Globe December 3, 2008 review of the Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft interview with David  Ignatius it was time to call a racist a racist.  Brzezinski  argues that caving in to Russian demands against expansion of NATO and not welcoming former Soviet satellites Ukraine and Georgia would only be “reinforcing their imperial nostalgia.”  For those of us who grew through the depths of the Cold War, it was the Communist Soviet Union, we were told, that stood as the symbol of everything we as Americans stood against.  The Soviet Union was the reason for our exorbitant military expenditures, the reason we needed a draft, the reason we invaded Vietnam. To Americans of the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s the Soviet Union was simply the reason. Communism was an evil that had to be eradicated. As the Berlin wall came down and with the disillusionment of the Soviet Union the communist forces just went home. Throughout the 1990’s and with the help of American experts, Russia was transformed into a freewheeling capitalist paradise, dominated by powerful oligarchs. After ten years of crushing poverty, exploitation and gangsterism, Russia is now an economic force in its own right. But  why, after the fall of Soviet Union, was Russia still the enemy? We assumed it was Brzezinski’s anti-communism that gave him the license to throw out international law by drawing the Soviets’ into Afghanistan to destroy “evil.” But it turns out that Brzezinski’s  anti-communist campaign was really hiding a virulent form of racism against all things Russian. Now as he pushes his Russo phobic campaign again, it is still as dangerous, shortsighted and counterproductive today as was his use of Muslim extremists to destroy the Soviet Union back in 1979.

How Brzezinski’s Racism Against Russia Destroyed Afghanistan

The first official sign that the U.S. had entered the complex web of intrigues for Central Asia came in 1973 when a little noticed palace coup in Iran’s neighbor Afghanistan prompted U.S. Ambassador Robert Neuman to signal that a “limited Great Game” was back on. And when in 1978 a group of Afghan Marxists assumed power in a bloody coup, the limited game Neuman had spoken of only five years before, became the only game in town.

The U.S. responded by sending a seasoned diplomat, Adolph “Spike” Dubs to wean the Marxists away from Moscow and return them to a neutral buffer state. But Washington’s signals were split between detente minded Cyrus Vance and virulent anti-communist Zbigniew Brzezinski and as tensions rose between the Soviet Union, China and Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Dubs stood defenseless.

Kidnapped by a splinter group of Afghan Maoists, the U.S. Ambassador was killed in the rescue attempt and within days the policy that now sees the U.S. playing the Great Game for control of Central Asia was born.

Given a license by the death of Dubs, Zbigniew Brzezinski unleashed the floodgates of support for rival Islamic factions fighting the Marxists and their Soviet advisors in the mountains. Within months the chaos had drawn the Russians in and 30 years later the war still rages. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s radical policies fostered the destabilization of Central Asia that cost the Soviet Union its Empire, but at the same time it empowered radical elements in Islam to fight the Soviet Union and now the world must face Brzezinski’s creation.

A Message for the New President – Stop Killing Afghanis

(excerpt) read the complete article here

Come January, President-elect Barack Obama will confront the most difficult foreign policy crisis of his administration with the region-wide-war developing in Afghanistan. If he is to succeed, the new president must immediately change the tone of U.S. engagement. He can do this by first establishing a revised set of rules by which the United States must play, stressing the rule of international law and respect for civil and human rights. The president must then initiate these rules by announcing that the first priority of U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan is the preservation of human life. In other words, stop killing Afghanis.

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