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Reprinted from Consortium News
President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009.
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President Barack Obama's decision to join other Western leaders in snubbing Russia's weekend celebration of the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe looks more like pouting than statesmanship, especially in the context of the U.S. mainstream media's recent anti-historical effort to downplay Russia's crucial role in defeating Nazism.
Though designed to isolate Russia because it had the audacity to object to the Western-engineered coup d'etat in Ukraine on Feb. 22, 2014, this snub of Russia's President Vladimir Putin -- like the economic sanctions against Russia -- is likely to backfire on the U.S. and its European allies by strengthening ties between Russia and the emerging Asian giants of China and India.
Obama's boycott is part of a crass attempt to belittle Russia and to cram history itself into an anti-Putin, anti-Russian alternative narrative. It is difficult to see how Obama and his friends could have come up with a pettier and more gratuitous insult to the Russian people.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- caught between Washington's demand to "isolate" Russia over the Ukraine crisis and her country's historic guilt in the slaughter of so many Russians -- plans to show up a day late to place a wreath at a memorial for the war dead.
But Obama, in his childish display of temper, will look rather small to those who know the history of the Allied victory in World War II. If it were not for the Red Army's costly victories against the German invaders, particularly the tide-turning battle at Stalingrad in 1943-1944, the prospects for the later D-Day victory in Normandy in June 1944 and the subsequent defeat of Adolf Hitler would have been much more difficult if not impossible.
Yet, the current Russia-bashing in Washington and the mainstream U.S. media overrides these historical truths. For instance, a New York Times article by Neil MacFarquhar on Friday begins: "The Russian version of Hitler's defeat emphasizes the enormous, unrivaled sacrifices made by the Soviet people to end World War II ..." But that's not the "Russian version"; that's the history.
For its part, the Washington Post chose to run an Associated Press story out of Moscow reporting: "A state-of-the-art Russian tank ... on Thursday ground to a halt during the final Victory Day rehearsal. ... After an attempt to tow it failed, the T-14 rolled away under its own steam 15 minutes later." (Subtext: Ha, ha! Russia's newest tank gets stuck on Red Square! Ha, ha!).
This juvenile approach to pretty much everything that's important -- not just U.S.-Russia relations -- has now become the rule. From the U.S. government to the major U.S. media, it's as if the "cool kids" line up in matching fashions creating a gauntlet to demean and ridicule whoever the outcast of the day is. And anyone who doesn't go along becomes an additional target of abuse.
That has been the storyline for the Ukraine crisis throughout 2014 and into 2015. Everyone must agree that Putin provoked all the trouble as part of some Hitler-like ambition to conquer much of eastern Europe and rebuild a Russian empire. If you don't make the obligatory denunciations of "Russian aggression," you are called a "Putin apologist" or "Putin bootlicker."
Distorting the History
So, the evidence-based history of the Western-sponsored coup in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014, must be forgotten or covered up. Indeed, about a year after the events, the New York Times published a major "investigative" article that ignored all the facts of a U.S.-backed coup in declaring there was no coup.
The Times didn't even mention the notorious, intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in early February 2014 in which Nuland was handpicking the future leaders, including her remark "Yats is the guy," a reference to Arseniy Yatsenyuk who -- after the coup -- quickly became prime minister. [See Consortiumnews.com's "NYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine."]
Even George Friedman, the president of the Washington-Establishment-friendly think-tank STRATFOR, has said publicly in late 2014: "Russia calls the events that took place at the beginning of this year a coup d'etat organized by the United States. And it truly was the most blatant coup in history."
Beyond simply ignoring facts, the U.S. mainstream media has juggled the time line to make Putin's reaction to the coup -- and the threat it posed to the Russian naval base in Crimea -- appear to be, instead, evidence of his instigation of the already unfolding conflict.
For example, in a "we-told-you-so" headline on March 9, the Washington Post declared: "Putin had early plan to annex Crimea." Then, quoting AP, the Post reported that Putin himself had just disclosed "a secret meeting with officials in February 2014 ... Putin said that after the meeting he told the security chiefs that they would be 'obliged to start working to return Crimea to Russia.' He said the meeting was held Feb. 23, 2014, almost a month before a referendum in Crimea that Moscow has said was the basis for annexing the region."