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West is Gunning for Russian Media Ban

by Finian Cunningham, via Strategic Culture

It would be monumental, but Western states seem to be moving, ineluctably, towards banning Russian news media channels from satellite platforms and the internet. That outcome – albeit with enormous ethical and political implications – seems to be a logical conclusion of the increasingly frenzied transatlantic campaign to demonize Russia.

Washington, London and Paris appear to be coordinating an unprecedented media onslaught that is vilifying Russia for almost every conceivable malfeasance, from alleged war crimes in Syria to threatening the security of Europe, to shooting down civilian airliners, to subverting American presidential elections. And that’s only a sample.

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson declared this week that Russia is in danger of becoming a «pariah state». Ironically, that fate has less to do with Russia’s actual conduct and more to do with the desired objective driving Western policy towards Moscow – to isolate and portray Russia as an international reprobate.

If Russia can be sufficiently demonized in the eyes of the Western public by their governments, then the political context is created for drastic measures, which would otherwise be seen as unacceptable infringements of democratic rights. Measures that go way beyond economic sanctions and into the realm of media censorship. How weird is that? The «free world» which deplores «Russian authoritarianism» moving towards media censorship and policing what it deems as «thought-crime».

European parliamentarians this week voted for a resolution calling for greater «institutional capacities to counter Kremlin-inspired propaganda». The vote was passed by the EU’s foreign affairs committee and will go before the full parliament next month. If it is voted through then, the next step would be institutional mechanisms to block Russian media access.

The hostility towards Russia, as conveyed by the wording in this week’s EU resolution, can only be described as rabid, if not bordering on paranoid. The Russian government was accused of aggressively employing a «disinformation campaign», of «targeting EU politicians and journalists», and of «disrupting democratic values across Europe». In short, Moscow was accused of plotting the downfall of the European bloc.

Of particularly sinister note, the EU foreign affairs committee gave special attention to Russia’s «wide range of tools and instruments such as multi-lingual TV stations and pseudo news agencies to divide Europe».

So, not only is the Russian government being recklessly accused of harboring subversive, destructive designs on European states, its professional news media channels are conflated with an alleged Russian agenda of hybrid warfare. The Russian state is demonized as a foreign enemy, and its news media are part of the hybrid warfare arsenal. In other words, legitimate Russian public information services are in effect being delegitimized by the European parliament.

Astoundingly, professional media channels like RT and Sputnik are actually being referred to as «pseudo news agencies» and «tools of Kremlin propaganda».

The oft-cited issue of these Russian channels being «state-owned» and government-funded is irrelevant. So too are Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, BBC, France 24 and Deutsche Welle, to name a few of the Western state-owned broadcasters. Indeed, aggregate Western government funding for news publishing is many multiples that of Russia’s budget.

The Western drumbeat to delegitimize Russia’s popular news media has escalated in recent months. Last month, for example, the US-led NATO military alliance issued yet another report warning: ‘West Losing Information War Against Russia’.

It is a fair question to ask, what has a supposed military-security organization got to do with espousing on matters of journalism and public information services?

A Voice of America report added: «The West must step up its efforts to combat and counter the information war being waged by its opponents, according to NATO officials. They warn that countries like Russia are exploiting the freedom of the press in Western media to spread disinformation».

Note how it is alleged that Russia is somehow underhandedly «exploiting» Western media freedom. The implication here is that counter-sanctions on Russian media would therefore be justified because of alleged transgressions.

Meanwhile, also last month, the Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper Jr reportedly briefed members of Congress on Russian «information warfare». He singled out RT and Sputnik as media weapons for Russian «information warfare». Their purpose, according to Clapper, was subverting Western societies by tapping into radical groups and sowing public confusion.

This marks a dramatic deterioration in West-Russia relations, whereby Russia’s mass news media are tarred as enemy weapons. Such thinking also betrays how degenerate Western political leaders have sunk into Cold War stereotypes; and how willing they are prepared to go to further antagonize Russia.

Ever since the much-vaunted «reset» friendlier policy towards Russia under US President Barack Obama was abandoned during his first administration, circa 2011, Washington’s hostility and that of its European allies has crescendoed to current levels of apparent hysteria.

Probably the key factor in why Washington jettisoned its reset policy was that it realized Russian President Vladimir Putin was not going to be a pushover like his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, who cravenly submitted to American hegemony, whether on matters of geopolitical interests, global finance, or overseas resource-wars. Putin was having none of it. Russia would not be an American vassal state, as European Union states all-too evidently are.

It is because of Russia’s independence and boldness on speaking out against American caprice towards international law, for example in its conduct of illegal wars and regime change machinations in the Middle East, North Africa and Ukraine, that Washington finds such attitude so intolerable.

When asked recently by German media why the West is so hostile towards him, Putin reportedly responded with one word: «Fear».

By that, the Russian leader did not mean that the West was afraid of Russia attacking militarily. He meant that the fear was due to his power of demonstration. A strong counter-weight to US-led imperialistic conduct is a powerful negation of presumed American unipolar supremacy over the world. It means that the world is not a doormat for American subjugation. Russia’s defiance of US hegemony is a harbinger of a multipolar world, one in which America and its European subsidiaries must begin working with other nations as equals and within the mutual confines of international law, not as renegades above the law.

Syria is a classic illustration. Washington and its British and French allies, along with regional client states, presumed that they could pull off another illegal regime-change operation in that Arab country, as they had done previously in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia’s military intervention in support of its Syrian ally was a stark demonstration that the Western regime-change playbook was no longer permitted. Furthermore, Russia’s intervention also exposed the covert criminal involvement of Washington and its partners in using terrorist proxies for regime change.

The same can be said about Ukraine, where Russia’s political support for ethnic Russian separatists has prevented Washington’s coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 turning the entire country into a US puppet-regime.

This is why Washington fears Russia under Putin. It is an obstacle to its full-spectrum global dominance, as envisaged by American imperialist ideologues following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

However, Russia is more than an obstacle. In its conduct of independent foreign policy, Russia is exposing American crimes of international lawlessness and state-sponsorship of terrorism. And Russia is also exposing the pathetic servility and complicity of European states, the Western mass media and UN institutions in pandering to Washington’s hegemonic ambitions.

Russia’s foreign policy is, of course, wholly legitimate. But from Washington’s point of view it is an intolerable defiance of its tyrannical desires. To that end, Russia must be transmogrified into an enemy state. And the servile European leaders go along with that agenda in order to conceal their own odious complicity.

It so happens that Russian news media have shown commensurate journalist independence and critical examination on major world events, such as what is really going on in Syria and Ukraine. Western governments can be provably connected to covertly supporting terrorist networks for illegal regime change. If that sounds far-fetched and «unfair comment» it is only because Western media have failed to expose their own governments’ bogus claims and pretensions. It nevertheless does not delegitimize the journalism of Russia media. In fact, it makes such journalism commendable.

To say that the Western states are frustrated by Russia is an understatement. They are livid, as can be seen from the way their Syrian regime-change criminal enterprise has been routed. Hence, Western efforts are aimed at accusing Russia of «war crimes» and being comparable to Nazi Germany.

Combine this demonization with sensational claims of Russia subverting Western democracies, the toxic political climate becomes conducive to more far-reaching measures.

This is a recklessly reductionist logic: Russia equals enemy state, and Russia news media are tantamount to enemy propaganda.

As the European lawmakers voting this week on curbing Russia news media suggests, the next logical step is the outright banning of Russian news channels from the airwaves and internet.

But as Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief at RT told Deutsche Welle, the draconian move to ban Russian media only shows how empty Western claims of «free speech» are

«This is a rather interesting interpretation of the much-touted western values, particularly that of the freedom of speech – which in action apparently means attacking a rare voice of dissent amongst literally thousands of European media outlets,» added Simonyan.

Western governments are displaying the standards of a despot.

Unable to get their absolute way, including violating international law and going to war whenever and wherever they want, they then lash out at resistant nations like Russia, to the point where Russia is being labelled as an enemy state liable for military attack.

And when news media expose these criminal Western double standards and hypocrisies, then such media are also lambasted as enemy propaganda that must be shut off and banned.

Western decadence is truly sinking into the gutter or corruption and absurdity. That is a fate of its own making due to its own internal collapse of oligarchic mis-rule and warmongering. And the Western public increasingly know that, with or without Russian assistance.

Shooting the messenger, doesn’t alter that message.

 

23 Comments

  1. alexpro says

    If the West were to trully block Russian media, i think many of us would be relieved. Today many people living in the West believe the lies told by RT and Sputnik. Both outlets are considered “Russian Military Assets”. We must ban all Russian propaganda. must do so now.

    Like

  2. Alessandro says

    What I find interesting about what’s going on right now in the western MSM is that in the history classes I’ve taken in school and university – I turned 27 this year – the anti-Russian, anti-communist paranoia of the 50s has been explained as driven by a sort of neurotic mass hysteria, the product of the overly conservative post-WWII western society. The narrative I’ve always received is that all of it was done away with in the 60s by rock and roll, the student and civil rights movements, the sexual revolution, the New Left and SDS, etc. The apparent reason we don’t study authors like Bradbury anymore, for example, is because his criticisms of American war-mongering and expansionism are irrelevant to the 90s and 2000s, the age of neoliberal triumphalism.

    So to see unadulterated Cold War rhetoric being employed by the media against Russia and now China, and to see even self-styled leftists regurgitate it uncritically, is almost surreal to me. What has struck me most over the last three years or so is the complete disregard for actual evidence in reporting of the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. The media publishes innuendo and hearsay, and all over social media people cite it as proof that Russians want to blow up all of us and our grandmothers and that we need to launch a preemptive strike. The lack of criticism from small-l liberals towards the media’s vilification of Russia is deafening, and ostensibly liberal sources have been as rabidly russophobic as overtly right-wing media like the Economist and WSJ. Not to mention of course that even some Unrepentant Marxists have been sighted jumping on the pro-war bandwagon.

    So in light of all this, if people in the 1950s were caught up in mass hysteria, what explanation is there for what’s happening now and the lack of critical response to it? And whatever happened to the anti-war left? To hear my professors tell it, with postmodern critical theory and the internet and meme culture and so on we’re supposed to be much less susceptible to this kind of propaganda now. Maybe the problem is that we teach that propaganda is only something that happens in more socially conservative countries, so when westerners see it in front of their faces they don’t recognize it.

    Like

    • alexpro says

      You do know that Russia was the major aggressor of the cold war right? That it was the USSR who wanted to destroy the West, not the other way around.

      Like

      • You do know that that was the propaganda line with absolutely nothing to substantiate it in the way of evidence, don’t you? Or that the Warsaw Pact was a defense reaction to NATO, and not the other way ’round?

        Like

  3. “…counter Kremlin-inspired propaganda…”

    Who’s going to counter the noxious Western propaganda, which is slopping in from everywhere? What they want is for the sheeple to go back to grazing peacefully, and not to be alarmed when one or two of them get ‘disappeared’ and never seen again.
    Like CNN said, they’ll let us know what’s important. Right.

    I fear the worst after the Wicked Witch of the East, HRC, steals the WH in 15 days. Shortly after her coronation, the USA or one of our 800+ overseas bases will get hit with another 9/11 style False Flag, with the corrupt MSM pointing at Syria and Iran as the culprits. Queen Hillary will announce, to protect us, of course, drastic measures, like cutting out channels like RT and the throttling of the ‘Net, since it is a haven of deplorables.

    May Odin help us all.

    Like

    • Brian Harry, Australia says

      I hope you are completely wrong…..but I suspect a False Flag is certainly on the cards………with Hillary whipping “Crazed American Patriots” into a frenzy………To Keep America SAFE…………!!

      Like

  4. Brian Harry, Australia says

    “The first casualty of war is the truth”. It looks like the ‘shit is about to hit the fan’……..

    Like

  5. Nothing but a unipolar world. Fabulous article! US is doing nothing but implementing hard, soft, and structural hegemony. It is the most seductive and influential country in the world.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Kathleen Lowrey says

    The cover illustration of Putin as a shadowy demon with glowing red weapon-eyes was a subtle touch on the part of the Economist, I thought:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Over at Paul Robinson’s Irrussianality blog, there is a post dedicated entirely to menacing Putin / Russia covers.

      “A Normal Week in the British Press”
      https://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/a-normal-week-in-the-british-press/#comments

      Commenter JT links to Dominic Basulto’s blog who wrote an article explaining how to create a malevolent Putin / Russia magazine cover.

      “Russophobia and the dark art of making an anti-Russian magazine cover”
      View story at Medium.com

      Particularly entertaining is that there is a sub-genre of magazine cover of Putin-as-gangster, whether 1930s-styled Chicago gangster or modern Mafia Don gangster.

      Needless to say, The Economist wins hands down on creating and publishing menacing Putin / Russia magazine cover propaganda art. There must be a small dedicated department there.

      Like

      • Kathleen Lowrey says

        if it doesn’t already exist, the pinnacle artwork is probably coming soon: Putin as a bear in a mafia don outfit. With scary eyes, natch.

        Like

        • Brian Harry, Australia says

          “Putin as a bear in a mafia don outfit. With scary eyes, natch”.

          You forgot the violin case…………

          Like

  7. rtj1211 says

    The downfall of the EU is being plotted by those business interests who can pick up assets for a song as a result. If they can pick up those assets for a song without the EU collapsing they will do so.

    The Brexit vote has nothing to do with Putin and everything to do with 52% of the UK electorate. THe EU will implode if similar numbers of Italians, Danes, Dutch, Hungarian and even French/German voters do the same.

    I am wondering where ‘the big banks’ will go if AfD wins the German election next year and LEPen wins in France. THeir threats to leave Britain would look pretty hollow then….

    I must go and read up what Goebbels had to say about Comrade Djugushvili prior to Operation Barbarossa……

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I bought a lovely freshly landed turbot from my Hastings fishmonger on Saturday morning. From the mainstream media reports over the past few days, I am sure the turbot actually jumped into the fishing boat to escape the deadly Russian war fleet that was steaming up the Channel in a terribly Russian aggression way.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Just the way the West talks about it tells you everything. Russia is winning the “information war“; sometimes they put it more bluntly and say “propaganda war“. In other words, they basically admit they, as well as the people they accuse, use “information” as a tool of war, as propaganda.

    Two of the most “respected” western news outlets, CNN and the BBC, have both been caught read-handed staging and fabricating “chemical attacks” in Syria. How anyone can trust western mainstream media after that is beyond me. And if that’s not propaganda, then nothing is.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. damien says

    NATO is heavily involved in this censorship move. In Feb 2015 the Brookings Institute published a critical report outlining US policy intentions towards arming Ukraine with lethal offensive weapons and a billion dollars every year in defense expenditure. It was signed by a brace of US political heavyweights from NATO and the State Department: Strobe Talbott, Michèle Flournoy, Jan Lodal, Steven Pifer, Ambassador Ivo Daalder, Ambassador John Herbst, Admiral James Stavridis, and General Charles Wald.

    Yet the catalyst for the NATO report came from a 2014 report by General Wes Clark and a former strategy adviser to Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger named Phillip Karber who went on a fact-finding mission to Ukraine. Their report — and sundry related articles and videos — were stuffed with false claims about Russia’s military presence in Ukraine. On Jan 21 2015 Karber was quoted by the Washington Times:

    “Things are really heating up — five Russian armored task forces crossed the border in last 60 hours, a force of about 75 main battle tanks, 100 infantry fighting vehicles, 100 other armored vehicles and fifty artillery systems.”

    There was no credible evidence for these military incursions whatsoever. But that didn’t stop Karber who also claimed that the Russians employed Chechens in Ukraine to slit the throats of any captives, that they had used thermobaric bombs, and that no Russian tanks were sighted crossing the border because they had been railed in on flatbed train carriers!

    This was the calibre of propaganda lies upon which NATO built a decision to spend a billion defense dollars a year in Ukraine. And it has the gall to complain about Russian “disinformation”.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. The one thing that the Rulers of the US, UK and EU fear the most, is their voters learning the Truth about what theyre really up to and Why. The Mainstream Media peddle lies and propaganda. Here in the UK, the BBC used to be a trusted broadcaster; the BBC Overseas Service used to be listened to in conflict zones all around the globe. Then a BBC stringer Andrew Gilligan revealed Tony Blairs and his Spin Doctor ,Alastair Campbells Lies about Invading Iraq. The BBC was immediately gelded i.e. had its balls cut off. Its been a UK Government Propaganda Mouthpiece ever since. The Washington Post got Nixon on Watergate and later had to appologise for cheerleading for Bush`s Invasion of Iraq.
    TV Stations and Newspapers and Google are all owned by the “Western” Oligarchs .

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Fantastic article! I have been preaching the same thing for a decade to the point where my wife won’t support me and my kids just shake their heads. I know I am right. The US is a total disaster, decadent yes, but also degenerate, brutal and anti humanitarian. ow can any American leader have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and tell others that they are breaking humanitarian principle when they do it everyday? How is torture humanitarian? The US tortures and when a Canadian diplomat in a moment of candor said just that, the then Prime minister, Stephen Harper forced him to recant. No wonder Harper got canned by the Canadian people. American protestations of innocence are lies and to be forced to recant the truth is beyond disgusting and perverse! Suffice it to say that if governmental authorities decide to censor my reading materias, they will certainly pay for it next election.

    Liked by 3 people

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