David Lindorff, an ardent advocate for impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, posted an article this morning detailing the media’s coverage of the current relatively small war between Russia and Georgia. He accurately stated, “This is not news. This is propaganda.”
When comparing current coverage of the conflict to the lack of media coverage of the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it’s hard not to question what we are reading and wonder if media is giving us the truth. In fact, a passing glance at the stories about the current Russia-Georgia conflict show a clear anti-Russian sentiment even though Georgia is responsible for igniting this bloody mess.
The U.S. and other allied powers may be intentionally making it difficult for the world to understand the history of this volatile region or the who, what, where, when, and why of the current situation.
Georgia is U.S.-backed and has been since US-educated Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili took power. Saakashvili came to power on a platform of reclaiming South Ossetia and Abkhazia for Georgia and there is no way that the U.S. could not have seen this coming.
While the U.S. called for a ceasefire in the conflict as it condemned Russia’s “disproportionate response,” the U.S. airlifted Georgian troops out of Iraq and into the combat zone. (Georgia, until the conflict began, had the third most troops of any country deployed in Iraq.)
All of this should come as no surprise if you aware of this chain of events, which Asia Times details:
As an economic crisis and lawlessness grew in Georgia in the recent past, Russian diplomacy began shifting gear in Tbilisi, encouraging the elements that stood for better relations with Moscow. Up to a point, Moscow was right in doing so. But it failed to see that from Saakashvili's perspective, as his authoritarian regime became more and more unpopular and the debris of misgovernance, corruption and venality began to accumulate, it paid to whip up xenophobia. Russia was the best target, as nothing inflames Georgian passions better than the issue of the country's integrity.
That is why Moscow protested when it began to be known that with encouragement from the United States, Tbilisi was embarking on a plan to dramatically increase its military budget 30 times. This Georgian move went side-by-side with growing US assistance in training the Georgian army. Moscow began asking a pertinent question as to who it was that Tbilisi visualized getting into a war with.
Moscow proposed that an agreement could be signed committing all protagonists to commit to non-use of force in settling differences. But Tbilisi wouldn't have such an agreement. Nor would Washington prevail on Tbilisi to accept one. Not only that, Washington closed its eyes when clandestine supplies of weapons began pouring into Tbilisi. In July, the US Department of Defense funded a military exercise with Georgia. In retrospect, the turning point came when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Tbilisi last month.
Saakashvili drew inspiration from Rice's statements endorsing Georgia's claim for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and open backing of the Georgian stance in its standoff with Russia. It is a moot point whether Saakashvili unilaterally drew conclusions from Rice's diplomatic gesture or a tacit Washington-Tbilisi understanding came about.
At any rate, Saakashvili let loose the dogs of war within a month of Rice's visit to Tbilisi. And he acted with immaculate timing - when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was on summer vacation and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had left Moscow to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics. On balance, it is inconceivable Washington was in the dark about how Saakashvili's mind was working.
Since Saakashvili let loose, George W. Bush and policy advisers have done everything possible to conflate the conflict in a way so that it would seem like Russia is entirely responsible for the fiasco. McCain and Obama have also issued quotes that lead one to believe Russia is primarily to blame for the problems in the volatile region.
CNN and MSNBC are using an AP article that quotes President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia saying, “I have reached a decision to halt the operation to force the Georgian authorities to peace…The aggressor has been punished and has incurred very significant losses. Its armed forces are disorganized." And has made sure people are aware of the fact that Russia supports separatists in South Ossetia that have been giving Georgia trouble.
FOX News’ headline, “Georgia Reports Attacks Continue as Russia's Medvedev Orders Troop Withdrawal,” is enough to foster anti-Russian sentiments. While it works hard to maintain objectivity, if one reads the entire article, you can see such objectivity fizzle as a brief history of how Russia, as one Polish leader is quoted at the end, “has once again shown its face, its true face” unfolds without mentioning past U.S. involvement in Georgia.
The Daily Telegraph from the UK maintains the same type of coverage as FOX News. It features various accounts of the carnage in this article on the current situation, accounts that primarily focus on Russian shelling of buildings.
One intriguing paragraph is the following: