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Re the Olympics: “Do Not Trust Your Friends”

4:45 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

Russia Today (RT): With such biased Western reporting about the Sochi Olympics, never was an ancient Greek saying from the Trojan War more apropos: “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes”, “Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts.”

I’ve been watching Russia’s English language television channel, RT (Russia Today) for several hours a day for about a year now, and this has given me a picture of Vladimir Putin’s presidency that casual watchers miss. When you have seen dozens of interviews by American educated Russian Oxana Boyko, or French educated Georgian Sophie Schevarnadze, Americans Abby Martin and Max Keiser, or Briton’s goof-off John Brown exploring the farthest reaches of this vast country – or even the American ‘Resident’ who poses short questions to New Yorkers on the street, you realize that Russia‘s President is searching for something that is neither Western style capitalism nor Communism. That puts him on the same wave length as grassroots movements around the globe, whether we’re talking about the demonstrators in Muslim Turkey’s Taksim Square, Spain’s ‘Indignados’ or the Occupy Movement.

While taking every opportunity to reveal America’s problems at home and abroad, the ‘Voice of Russia’ seeks out movers, shakers and thinkers from around the world who have something useful to say about the possibilities of combining equity with development for humans in the throes of religious upheaval on a planet that challenges their survival as a species. American dissidents like Tom Hartmann or Peter Lavelle have been joined by Larry King, who prefaces his interviews with the slogan ‘Does the Media Abandon Us or Do We Abandon the Media?’

The sound bites that have accompanied the Sochi Winter Olympics, whether about security or the meaning of the low-level official US delegation (headed by the former head of Homeland Security, Janet Napoletano, while a U.S. warship stands ominous guard in the Black Sea over an anticipated terrorist threat), are part of an American campaign to persuade the world that alas, although the Communist Soviet Union has been succeeded by a capitalist Russia, the largest country in the world is still not an acceptable partner on the international stage because it is not a democracy but an ‘autocracy,’ ruled by a  former KGB operative, Vladimir Putin. (Never mind that President George H. W. Bush was a former head of the CIA.)

This campaign is made more difficult by RT’s message that according to a recent article in the Buenos Aires Herald is seen by 630 million people around the globe: cooperation is better than competition and confrontation. The new motto of France’s English language channel, France 24, ‘Understand the World’, is equally subversive, and both define the growing divide between official America and the rest of the planet. After a century of anti-Communism, it is almost impossible for an American politician or diplomat to see anything other than political maneuvering in Russia’s behavior, a lamentable continuation of the Cold War, when the turn to capitalism of a re-baptized Russia fails to signal its alignment with everything we represent. Washington’s antagonism toward the Soviet Union was based on its theoretic espousal of redistribution as opposed to ‘a level playing field.’ But the reasons for its current antagonism vis a vis Moscow are the same as those which drove us to war against Germany and Japan: commercial interests, which have only been heightened in a world scrambling for the last resources. And in that confrontation, resource rich Russia is seen as a threat to Washington.

Beyond that, while ‘the West’ (or ‘Global Corporatism’) seeks to maximize profits, Russia and China, harking to other traditions, see capitalism as the latest tool for achieving humanistic solutions to the problems of a post-industrial world, placing people above profits. And whether we are talking about the much-derided ‘harmonious society’ being touted in China, or Putin’s emphasis on traditional values evidenced in RT’s choice of investigations and conversations, both continue to believe that solutions require dialogue, negotiation and coopera-tion, while the now old ‘new world’ mindlessly touts naked power and confrontation.

Many Americans are prevented from understanding what is going on by a permanent background noise that goes something like this: “The ‘other side’ claims to want ‘peace,’ but it really wants to take over the world.” The dominant theme of the Cold War interpreted the slogan ‘Workers of the World, Unite’ to mean that the Soviet Union – the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ – wanted to conquer the world in the same way that Hitler did. This misapprehension is enabled by ignorance of both the fascist and socialist ideologies. Incapable of defining either political system, the American people have been taught to fear only one thing: lack of ‘freedom.’ The Nazi dictatorship having been defeated, we do not need to fear fascism: however, the Soviet Union having imploded without undergoing Western directed regime change, can still not be trusted under the name ‘Russia’ for notwithstanding elections, it is still an ‘authoritarian regime,’ meaning one in which the people are not ‘really free.’

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The Enemy Never Changes

8:43 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

The start of the Geneva II talks on the Syrian Crisis illustrates the fact that for the Western media the only issue in the ‘war on terror’ is religion. The ideological factors involved in the American-led campaign to oust President Bashar al-Assad, as well as in demonstrations around the globe are whited out.  News channels will mention in passing that in Turkey or Egypt there are also ‘leftists’ on the street, but the word has no ‘consistency’, it’s just a label. Similarly, in the case of Syria, the fact that the Alawites are the least dogmatic Muslims, that the Baath is a socialist party and heads the only Arab secular state, is ignored.

This obfuscation makes it look as though religious demonstrators are not interested in equity, and reduces the ideologically motivated demonstrators to a rabble. In truth, although the world has often been wracked by religious wars, ‘revolts’ have most often been about equity, the many against the few – or the other way around, and capitalism is no more ‘the end of history’ than is communism or socialism.

Often my posts provoke accusations of pro-Russian ‘propaganda’, however they are the result of decades of observation that included six years living behind the Iron Curtain, studying (systems theory), reading and writing about international affairs and comparing various news media.

Those who a few days ago criticized my linking the events in Kiev to the upcoming Olympic games in Russia, fail to realize that news today is almost always part of a big picture rather than an isolated event. Knee-jerk reactions, or accusations of ‘having an agenda’ often follow blogs that imply approval of Russia’s international positions. They hide the reality of both class warfare and the dire threat of planetary ruin.

Still committed to ‘growth’, President Putin does not meet my standards for ecological sanity, but on RT there is no such thing as a sound bite.  The journalists on ‘capitalist’ Russia’s international news channel are free to discuss any subject in detail, including decentralization and cooperatively run industries. Equity is a theme that runs through everything from documentaries to interviews, and both Russian and international news.

Yesterday, Oksana Boyko, one of RT”s keenest minds, discussed the need for more direct democracy with Roslyn Fuller, an Irish professor of international law who sells photos of her body to support whistle-blowers.  If Fuller appears on CNN, she will come across as an entirely different person from the one who held a wide ranging discussion of law and parliamentary, as opposed to direct democracy with a skeptical and even provocative journalist.

Alas, even the blogosphere is almost entirely devoted to dissecting American politics and the misdeeds of the system, as if its two oceans made the United States truly independent of the rest of the world. That was how multi-lingual former ambassador Charles Freeman aptly phrased it recently to Oksana Boyko.