Cross-posted from Consortium News
As part of the New York Times' sorry descent into becoming a propaganda sheet for the U.S. State Department, the Times' front-page story on the Ukrainian presidential election offered a near perfect distillation of Official Washington's false narrative on the crisis.
"The special election was called by Parliament to replace Viktor F. Yanukovych, who fled Kiev on Feb. 21 after a failed but bloody attempt to suppress a civic uprising, and whose toppling as president set off Russia's invasion and annexation of Crimea," wrote David M. Herszenhorn, one of the most consistently biased reporters on Ukraine.
Indeed, that false narrative, which has now become engrained as American conventional wisdom, has itself become a threat to U.S. interests because, if you believe the preferred storyline, you would tend to support aggressive counter-measures that could have dangerous and counter-productive consequences.
Beyond that, there is the broader risk to U.S. democracy when major news organizations routinely engage in this sort of propaganda. Just in recent years, the U.S. government has launched wars under such fake pretenses, inflicting casualties in faraway lands, engendering profound hatred of the United States, depleting the U.S. Treasury, and maiming and killing American soldiers.
That is why it's important for journalists and news outlets do all they can to get these kinds of stories right and not just pander to the powers-that-be.
Ukraine's Real Narrative
Regarding Ukraine, the real narrative is much more complex and nuanced than the New York Times described. The origins of the immediate crisis date back to last year when the European Union rashly offered an association agreement to Ukraine, a proposal that elected President Yanukovych considered.
However, when the International Monetary Fund insisted on a harsh austerity plan that would have made the hard lives of the Ukrainian people even harder -- and when Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a more generous aid package of $15 billion -- Yanukovych turned away from the EU-IMF deal.
That provoked demonstrations in Kiev from Ukrainians, many from the west, who favored closer ties to Europe and who were tired of the endemic corruption that has plagued Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and since the "shock therapy" capitalism that saw a handful of oligarchs plunder the nation's wealth and resources.
Though most protesters appeared motivated by a desire for better governance and a hope that an association with Europe would improve their economic prospects, a significant percentage of the crowd on the Maidan came from neo-Nazi and other far-right movements that despised Yanukovych and his ethnic Russian political base for their own reasons, dating back to Ukraine's split in World War II between pro-Nazi and pro-Soviet forces.
The increasingly disruptive protests on the Maidan were also egged on by U.S. officials and pushed by U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations, some subsidized by the National Endowment for Democracy, whose neocon president Carl Gershman last September had termed Ukraine "the biggest prize" and a key step in undermining Putin inside Russia.
Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, a neocon who had been an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, personally urged on the demonstrators, even passing out cookies at the Maidan. In one speech, she told Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their "European aspirations."
Nuland also was caught in an intercepted phone conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt explaining whom she wanted to see running the government once Yanukovych was gone. Her choice was Arseniy Yatsenyuk or "Yats."
Sen. John McCain, another prominent neocon, rallied the Maidan protesters while standing near a Svoboda party banner honoring Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose radical paramilitary force had helped the Nazis expel and exterminate tens of thousands of Poles and Jews during World War II.
Contrary to Herszenhorn's boilerplate paragraph, the violence was not entirely from the embattled government. Neo-Nazi militias, which had secured weapons and organized themselves into 100-man brigades, launched repeated attacks on the police, including burning some policemen with firebombs.