I noted in my first post, Flare-Up in the Caucasus,
Even normally Russophobic media outlets, from what I’ve seen, cannot quite manage to spin this in an anti-Russian way (although I may have to retract this point, when the Op-Ed’s have been written up).
Well, I’m retracting it now. The propaganda model has been kicked into high gear in the West and turned squarely against Russia. Although it is acceptable for Georgia to attack Ossetia, with callous disregard for the lives of Russian citizens and UN-mandated peacekeepers (not to mention rumors of genocide), Russia cannot put a single plane over the territory of Georgia without inciting a chorus of condemnation from the Western hypocrites. (It’s totally OK in Kosovo’s case, but let’s not dwell on this uncomfortable comparison, at least for now).
Of course, expanding the conflict beyond South Ossetia is not only fully justified from a moral perspective, but it is also a military necessity. It would be stupid to allow Georgian armed forces to maintain perfect logistics and arrive fully-equipped, battle ready and full of morale, into South Ossetia. The fact Russia has limited itself to spoiling strikes against military and infrastructural targets and a naval arms embargo speaks of tremendous restraint, which can only be applauded.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning, to see just how well the Western media meets its ideals of transparency and objectivity, which it constantly tries to push down Russia’s throat.
Georgia is an ethnically heterogenous country. Ossetians are a separate minority, culturally, ethnically and linguistically, from the dominant ethnic group in the country. They were arbitrarily divided into two separate regions by Stalin. When the Soviet Union began to crumble, Georgia started asserting its authority, establishing Georgian as the national language in 1989 and barring regional parties in 1990. The Ossetians didn’t much like these Georgian nationalist tendencies and declared an independent republic. The Georgian President, Zviad Gamsakhurdia (much-admired by Saakashvili) responded by abolishing South Ossetia’s autonomous status and sending in troops Tskhinvali in January 1991. Atrocities were committed on both sides and the bitter fighting left a thousand Ossetians dead and 100,000 displaced. Many of the Georgians living there were also cleansed in retaliation. To prevent the conflict escalating further, Russia pressed a ceasefire upon Georgia and an OSCE peacekeeping force was stationed in South Ossetia. Its composition was Russian since at the time the UN was short of troops.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the old passports were no longer legitimate and as such South Ossetians had the choice between a Georgian or a Russian one. Since Russia is a federation which affords its regions significant autonomies, whereas Georgia is a traditional nation-state set on imposing its cultural standards on all within its borders and which showed no compunctions about attacking the Ossetians, it is no wonder that the vast majority of Ossetians opted for Russian passports. (The policy of giving out Russian passports is not particularly sinister. Romania had a similar scheme with Moldova, and few accused Bucharest of wishing to annex their northern neighbors. The South Ossetians, on the other hand, themselves want to get into Russia for protection against Georgian imperialist pretensions.)
Mikhael Saakashvili got a scholarship from the US State Department, studied at American universities and worked at a New York law firm. Meanwhile, his Presidency after the Rose Revolution has been characterized by a highly nationalistic, Russophobic policy. It is thus no surprise that relations between Washington and Tbilisi have been extremely cordial since then, while ties with Russia fell into a deep freeze. (This is not to say that his predecessor, Shevardnadze, followed a pro-Russian course; however, he was much more cautious in his actions).
Georgian military spending has exploded to nearly 10% of GDP, while it has received military supplies and training from the US, Israel, Turkey and a few other NATO countries. Saakashvili’s reign has come to be dominated by militarism, aggressive nationalism and authoritarianism (explained away as necessary to thwart nefarious Russian plans to undermine his regime).
In early August, there were minor skirmishes between Ossetian and Georgian forces on their bordes. They always were depressingly common, and as always it’s hard to say who was responsible. Around 20:00 on 7 August, after an intensification, Saakashvili went on air and offered an immediate ceasefire and talks.
However, only a short time after, around 23:00, Georgian forces were moved into position around Tskhinvali. Russian peacekeepers noted this and requested an explanation, and were told they were drawn off. During the night and early morning, just hours before the Olympics, attacks by Georgia on villages in South Ossetia intensified, where Grad MLRS launchers where used. Georgia began a unilateral military offensive into South Ossetia, to ‘restore constitutional order in the region’, despite all its pledges to the contrary. Tskhinvali was shelled by heavy artillery, including the route along which refugees were being moved, before being stormed by Georgian troops. The continuous murderous bombardment has resulted in the utter destruction of Tskhinvali and as many as 2000 civilian deaths, as well as 12 dead and 50 wounded amongst Russian peacekeepers directly targeted by Georgian tank fire.
These casualties were pre-meditated, as the Grad (“hail”) MLRS system is designed for complete annihilation of unarmored area targets. Turning them against a city, especially the dense apartment blocks typical of Soviet urban planning that prevailed in Tskhinvali, would inevitably result in massive civilian casualties.
At around 3:00 on 8 August, a tank- and APC-backed land attack on Tskinvali was launched by Georgia, which met weak Ossetian resistance. Soon after, Russia called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, to no avail thanks to the efforts of France, the UK and the US. At noon, Russia committed land forces to South Ossetia and seized the air space above Tskinvali. Georgian troops retreated to the forested hills around the city and continued bombarding it intermittently.
Georgia launched a war of agression. It committed area bombing of civilian areas and has ethnically cleansed around half the Ossetian population (at the beginning, there were around 70,000 Ossetians in South Ossetia; now, 30,000 have fled to Russia and a further 2,000 have been killed). No Ossetians, no problems for Georgian nationalism.
The war is also not necessarily bad for the Pentagon. While I still believe they did not expect this outburst, they will nonetheless get to observe Russian military tactics on the field. Meanwhile, initially more or less objective reporting in the Western media is getting swamped by outright anti-Russian propaganda in the ‘free’ Western press, above all on TV (for which the vast majority of the population rely on their news).
Because what do you get on Western TV? Saakashvili, with an EU flag behind him (Georgia is not in the EU) and in perfect English, spewing the crudest propagandistic bilge imaginable – along the lines of…
Russia is bombing Georgia, specifically targetting the civilian population.
Pot calls kettle black. Georgian troops massacred thousands of Ossetians on purpose via area bombardment. Russia limits itself to precision strikes against military assets and key war-related infrastructure. It is regrettable that some will miss their targets and kill civilians, but the key difference is that Russia did not intend to kill civilians; unlike Georgia.
Putin has told me that not only is my love for the West unacceptable, but also the path of freedom and democracy Georgia has chosen.
Actually what is unacceptable Mr. Saakashvili is your attempts to spread Western values of area bombardment, killing legally sanctioned peacekeepers, etc, to Russia. And if hospitalizing 500 protestors in brutal crackdowns and taking down TV stations is your idea of freedom and democracy, feel free to have it, just don’t push it down our throats.
We are a bastion of freedom in the world and this is why we are being invaded and annihilated by the totalitarian monster from the north. Stand up for your values, men of the West, and save us!
And I suppose killing thousands of Russian civilians had nothing to do with it.
This is a pre-meditated Russian provocation, look at the timing, the Olympic Games when humanity must come together, the Americans have upcoming elections, diplomats are on vacation – it’s the best time to attack a small defenceless country!
This sounds just about right. Except for one small point. Replace Russia with Georgia. Brilliant! For once, Misha, we totally agree!
We are fighting not only to defend our country, we are also fighting for the future of world peace and world order!
And so the Annals of Western Hypocrisy Go On and On, World and Time Without End
At the beginning, the Western media typically noted Georgia’s underhanded aggression against South Ossetia, but did not raise a furor over its bombardment of civilian areas. As soon as Russia intervened, however, it whipped itself up into a frenzy and declared all out info-war on Russia. The true cause of the war has been buried underneath newer texts sponsored by the Western elite and pushed on the mass media.
CNN: Headlines along the lines of “Georgia under attack as Russian tanks invade”. Saakashvili is the first commentator, whining in English about being a victim of Russian aggression, while showing Georgian Grad rockets being fired at Tskhinvali! Lots of interviews with Russophobic neocons. Say ’1600 killed in South Ossetia fighting’, without clarifying that those killed were mostly Russian citizens in Tskhinvali killed by Georgian artillery! Followed by Saakashvili talking about pre-meditated Russian attacks on Georgian civilians, to give the impression that it is actually Russia behind the huge civilian death toll! No ‘point of view’ appears from the Ossetian and Russian sides except their ominous-sounding announcements about intentions to “punish” Georgia, which is quoted out of context and serves to further confirm their sinister intentions to Western sheeple.
BBC: Russian warplanes bombing Gori and focusing on stray missile hitting apartment block (main target was military base). Headline is “Russian tanks enter South Ossetia”, sub-headline is “Georgia is fighting with separatists backed by Russia”.
British Sky News: Video of Georgian Grads firing on Tskhinvali under caption “Georgian side states that 7 of its citizens have been wounded in Russian strikes”. Followed by footage of T-90′s rolling into South Ossetia, ignoring that Tskhinvali is destroyed with thousands of Ossetians killed by Georgians.
The print media, unlike TV, at least has some golden nuggets of truth amidst the bilge (more intelligent people read newspapers, while the masses get their info from the box, which is more visceral and open to manipulation). This is far from universal, however, as the examples below demonstrate.
Interestingly, the Western info-war against Russia has been noticed and remarked upon on Russian TV.
No wonder Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in a news conference on 10 August said that the silence of Western nations during Georgia’s initial incursion into South Ossetia “raises very serious questions about sincerity and their attitude towards our country”, and also accused the foreign media of pro-Georgian bias in their coverage of the ongoing conflict between Georgia and Russia over breakaway South Ossetia.
“We want television screens in the West to be showing not only Russian tanks, and texts saying Russia is at war in South Ossetia and with Georgia, but also to be showing the suffering of the Ossetian people, the murdered elderly people and children, the destroyed towns of South Ossetia, and [regional capital] Tskhinvali. This would be an objective way of presenting the material,” Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said. Current Western media coverage of the events in the separatist republic is “a politically motivated version, to put it mildly,” he said.
Control is all about imposing your view of reality on the minds of others. Since overt political persecution is no longer widely accepted, the elites have resorted to fighting wars over hearts and minds. Western media manipulation is not readily noticeable, since if that were the case the simulation’s plausibility would fall apart immediately (as was the case in the Soviet Union). Hence, they fight via other, far more sophisticated means. This makes them far more insidious and dangerous to freedom than any repressive dictatorship; for in the latter one knows one is a slave, while too many Westerners continue to be believe they are free, whereas in fact they are also slaves, like the rest of us.
As things stand, today the Western media are nothing more than craven shills for their neocon masters. Western freedom is slavery, as foretold by Orwell; the system itself is nihilistic, a reality that has become a simulation, as Baudrillard told us.
It is only through tireless exposition of their lies and hypocrisy that more truth and freedom can be attained.