Wednesday, February 18, 2015

ANDREW KREIG : U.S. Hawks Beat War Drums Over Ukraine; Where Is The Free Press?

"Mainstream media" corporate frauds and hacks continue to studiously ignore the fact that the Obama/CIA engineered and financed coup in Kiev was mounted in order to "punish" Putin for granting asylum to Ed Snowden  

By Andrew Kreig

President Obama held an outwardly inconclusive bilateral strategy meeting this month at the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that masked a deep struggle between war hawks in the United States and European allies. 

Merkel with Obama: Charm offensive back on
So far, the president and several of his advisors have resisted intense, bipartisan pressures from Congress, Wall Street and the establishment media to escalate U.S. arms support for the faltering Ukrainian government.

Such shipments would almost inevitably mean more U.S. training and other escalation. Although Russia has incurred serious hardship from sanctions and oil drop prices as widely reported there are countervailing developments little noted that help sustain its position and hurt Europe and the United States. 

Russia has been taking long-term measures, for example, to win such allies as the other BRICS nations (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) in trade agreements that reduce the impact of sanctions and dollar-based trading.

Update: Defenders of the Donbass region under attack by NATO-backed Ukrainian forces reported on Feb. 17 a major victory underway in Debaltsevo, where Donbass separatists claimed to have surrounded between 5,000 and 8,000 Ukrainian troops before last week's ceasefire.

The Saker, the pen named for a widely read pro-separatist blogger based in the United States, wrote that field reports indicate that "All this is truly catastrophic news for the junta in Kiev" because their troops' capture or killing would represent a serious blow to the U.S.-backed government. 

That government has long denied that its troops were have been surrounded or seriously endangered in the "cauldron," which is a railroad junction between two rebellious regions with large Russian-ethnic populations. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department said U.S. interests are not served by a "proxy war" with Russia.

We have followed this debate closely for more than a year since taped conversations revealed the United States had orchestrated the coup in February 2014 that changed the country’s government and installed the current leaders.

Our research spans a full range of commentators. This editor attended, for example, the announcement at the Atlantic Council Feb. 2 of its major position paper seeking escalation and participated in a conference call the next day with the Ukraine’s new finance minister, U.S. native and former State Department employee Natalie Jaresko. She has lived in the Ukraine the past two decades and become a player with the help of $122 million in U.S. Agency for International Development funding. She answered questions from prominent news organizations. Our research includes also alternative commentators from the United States and Europe, including from the rebellious and largely Russian-speaking sectors of Eastern Ukraine known as the Donbass. Its residents are key players yet receive little coverage.

Update: A Feb. cease fire broker last week appeared to be holding except around the railroad hub of Debaltsevo, where some 5,000 to 8,000 Ukrainian troops were reputedly surrounded by rebel as of Feb. 17. The Kiev-based NATO-backed new government has been encountering recruiting difficulties also, as indicated by this video clip on YouTube headlined, "Ukraine woman from Zaporozhia region brilliantly takes down the war and the draft."

Regarding the dangerous situation, Reuters reported over the weekend, Merkel defends Ukraine arms stance in face of U.S. criticism. 

Her concerns were pooh-poohed by those making the case for U.S. escalation at an important forum hosted in Washington, DC by the Atlantic Council Feb. 2, "The Ukraine Crisis: Withstand and Deter Russian Aggression."

The New York Times broke the story U.S. Takes New Look at Arming Ukraine Forces, Officials Say of the new pressure by the neo-conservative and neo-liberal opinion leaders to double-down the United States investment in the Ukraine in the face of military, diplomatic and financial reverses for the West there during recent weeks following the overthrow of Ukraine's government a year ago.

Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott helped lead the way last week in a joint report by him and seven other prominent centrist former diplomats and military leaders in urging a $3 billion "non-lethal defensive" arms and training rescue package for the Kiev-based Ukrainian government to begin as soon as possible and extend over the next three years. Talbott said Russia has committed "act of war" in the Ukraine.

Russia denies sending organized troops, only permitting volunteers. Virtually no debate has occurred in Western media regarding amounts of Western military and intelligence help so far for the Kiev government backed by the West. At the Atlantic Council forum, however, speakers estimated 150 to 200 Russian military personnel in the Ukrainian and an unspecified number of U.S. personnel.

Strangeglovian NATO General Breedlove
NATO's top commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove has said weapons and equipment and other equipment are an option. As a sign of the pressures for escalation, his statement was unusual but little noted as such. The United States tradition has been for the military to defer to civilian leadership on policy.

Commentator Robert Parry, who broke the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s as an Associated Press and Newsweek reporter, wrote this week in Wretched US Journalism on Ukraine that he has never witnessed the media march so much in lock-step to the leaks and pronouncements of the U.S. Department of State and other Western authorities. 

This includes, he wrote, the media’s parroting of the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” canard enabling the Iraq war in 2003.

Parry's warning is apt and worrisome, especially given the seldom reported historical background, recent events, and imminent decision-making.

CNN war monger Amanpour screeches for WWIII
with Russia
The relentless pro-escalation, pro-Kiev, anti-Dombass slant in the Western media is not just within the United States. 

It is especially prevalent in the United Kingdom and its major news organizations, such as the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). 

Regarding historical background, no analysis of the situation can be meaningful without at least occasional reference to the $5 billion the United States has spent to destabilize the previous Ukrainian government and the coup last February that changed leadership.

This was disclosed publicly and privately by the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Victoria Nuland, whose phone call to U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt was intercepted a year ago and widely reported, as in U.S. diplomat apologizes for profane remarks on E.U. in leaked phone call.

Nuland, wife of longtime author and interventionist Robert Kagan, an early advocate during the 1990s of a new U.S. war against Iraq, sneered at what she regarded as slow-moving European efforts to take action against the government of the Ukraine before the coup in late February 2014. Nuland and Pyatt are shown above in a photo greeting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last year with Secretary of State John Kerry in the background.

Relevant also, albeit not necessary for constant repetition, is the history of the Ukraine.

More important, are the current concerns of ethnic Russian residents of Eastern Ukraine who are typically treated as non-players in the political and military events occurring around them except as victims of violence from unspecified sources.

Glossed over in Western accounts is that much of the East did not participate in Poroshenko's election and instead chose different leaders during their succession.

Additionally, the civil war has almost entirely been waged within the East by troops predominately from elsewhere. For example, Poroshenko halted a 10-day ceasefire in the country’s east last July 1 and ordered the Ukrainian National Guard to resume fighting rebels.

The above photo is from the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, which reported that Ukraine's central government attacked on July 2 civilians in the village of Luganskaya and nearby.

Such images should be part of Western news accounts even if debate can occur, as often in a war zone, regarding the specific circumstances.

The Russian news agency asserted that the damage came from Kiev-backed artillery shelling of civilian targets. But the agency also quoted Kiev authorities as denying they caused the damage. Kiev officials attributed the horrors to self-inflicted harm by rebels, an assertion disputed by some of the civilians interviewed in the bombing zone.

Most United States mainstream media have ignored the photos, attributed to RIA. 

Suppression helps keep news coverage focused on story lines advocated by the State Department, CIA and White House and those of like-minded news managers in other nations.

More generally, Western coverage seldom provides up-to-date maps and similar reporting on conditions in the Donbass, especially on any developments favorable to the rebel side. 

For nearly a week, most Western media have ignored in their maps and reporting evidence that rebels have surrounded an estimated 8,000 Kiev forces in what could be a major turning point in the battle, particularly given the Kiev government's recruiting and financial crises.

Comments and videos by leaders, soldiers and civilians from the east are available, as indicated below. News managers clearly deem it not newsworthy or reliable. But regarding reliability, there seems to be scant appreciation that in a deadly civil war propaganda comes from all sides.i

This raises a larger point that goes far beyond the Ukrainian situation:

Is the purpose of the U.S. and other Western media —including BBC, Reuters and other European media that have taken extremely pro-government stances in their news reports — primarily to amplify and otherwise repackage government messages? Or is the purpose to provide readers, viewers and voters a meaningful balance of perspectives from all relevant quarters to enable informed citizen decision-making? 

In that sense, NBC's Brian Williams suspension is part of this also. He has won many awards from his peers and yet has functioned more as a well paid actor portraying a reporter than a truth-seeker. It finally caught up with him, as blogger Bob Somerby, quoted below, has been writing for years. The Williams career is typical of many top-end anchors and other commentators whose slant is hard to detect and question in their most formal reports but becomes crystal clear in their books, high-paid lectures and other career-building appearances like those now hurting Williams.

Further, no one should doubt that those like Talbott and his peers are genuine experts. Talbott when he was Bill Clinton's roommate at Oxford, translated Nikita Khrushchev's historic, blockbuster memoirs -- illustrating how long he hasersed himself in these topics at a high level.

Yet our system is not supposed to be a few experts making war and peace decisions. That is why the president, the only one with a national constituency, is commander in chief.

There are, of course, other considerations, including news organization finances and political sensitivities. These make the Ukrainian situation all the more interesting. Few such case studies have the potential for war, disruption of both Russian and U.S. economies, and erosion of the United States relations with certain European nations. Significant elements of German and French leadership are opposed to the U.S. pressures to bulk up the Kiev government with arms. Yet congressional leaders from both major parties are pushing Obama to ramp up support.

Looming in the background are significant plans that Western defense contractors, energy companies and banking institutions have made for opportunities in the Ukraine, as well as a still-fervent anti-Russia segment of the American public. 

The mainstream media are increasingly part of that system, not a watchdog or educational services, as I've argued in my books and at this site.

Similar questions arise in many other foreign relations and domestic politics situations.

Prosecutors, for example, enjoy massive advantagesj in public relations battles against criminal defendants, for example, especially since financially strapped media have withdrawn routine coverage of the justice system except for pack journalism on high-profile cases.

These situations are too complex to resolve here. This is a start in raising the question, much like our recent column this month urging a fight against propaganda from the left, right and center.

In that spirit and in advance of important developments expected soon, we provide a sample of recent commentary on the Ukraine, including alternative views seldom reported in the West along with mainstream reports.

Andrew Kreig is Justice Integrity Project Executive Director and co-founder with over two decades experience as an attorney and non-profit executive in Washington, DC.

Andrew Kreig, Esq.
An author and longtime investigative reporter, his primary focus since 2008 has been exploring allegations of official corruption and other misconduct in federal agencies. He has been a consultant and volunteer leader in advising several non-profit groups fostering cutting-edge applications within the communications industries.
As president and CEO of the Wireless Communications Association International (WCAI) from 1996 until 2008, Kreig led its worldwide advocacy that helped create the broadband wireless industry. Previously, he was WCAI vice president and general counsel, an associate at Latham & Watkins, law clerk to a federal judge, author of the book Spiked about the newspaper business and a longtime reporter for the Hartford Courant.

Listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World from the mid-1990s and currently, he holds law degrees from the University of Chicago School of Law and from Yale Law School. Reared in New York City, his undergraduate degree in history is from Cornell University, where he was a student newspaper editor, rowing team member, and Golden Gloves boxer. 

Contact the author Andrew Kreig



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