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On Journalistic Integrity

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Last night (Sunday, June 25) I posted a comment on Deena Stryker's article "Trump/Putin Part 1" and added a link to Paul Craig Roberts' article "Armageddon Approaches ," which is headlined this morning on OEN and which I thought supported my point that Europeans, at least Germans, were still a long way from acting independently of the US. Roberts writes: "Eric Zuesse reports on a German newspaper leak of a Bundeswehr decision to declare Russia to be an enemy nation of Germany."

I clicked on the link to Zuesse's article, which was indeed alarming. The headline is "Germany Preparing for War Against Russia." The first sentence reads:

"According to a report issued on June 6th in German Economic News (Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, or DWN), the German government is preparing to go to war against Russia, and has in draft-form a Bundeswehr report declaring Russia to be an enemy nation."

However, Zuesse provides no direct link to this "report," so I had to search for it on the DWN website, and found it here. This article is unsigned, in German, and has a quite different headline, namely: "Merkel Declares Russia a Rival of Germany." The word "Rivale" means the same thing as the English equivalent, and does not mean or imply anything like "enemy." The rest of this article, which Roberts refers to as a "newspaper leak," is not about the German "White Paper 2016," which had not yet even been published, but about a Twitter message posted by Alexei Puschkow, who, according to DWN and duly reported by Zuess, had read a draft copy of this document provided by Russian intelligence. Zuess reports this much accurately:

"DWN says: 'The Russian secret services have apparently thoroughly studied the paper. In advance of the paper's publication, a harsh note of protest has been sent to Berlin: The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, Alexei Puschkow, has posted the Twitter message: "The decision of the German government declaring Russia to be an enemy shows Merkel's subservience to the Obama administration."'"

Deciphering this quote-within-a-quote, it means that Puschkow, who according to the German Wikipedia article about him "is known for his sharp and often polemical criticism of European and American policies," made this comment based on something he heard or read from Russian intelligence agents who somehow supposedly got hold of a "draft" of the official German document which would not be published until more than a month later (July 13).

Now, let's summarize, because it is confusing.

Zuesse writes on June 6 about "Germany Preparing for War Against Russia," citing a "report," published on the same day, in German, about a Twitter message by Alexei Pushkow, who had supposedly read a "draft" of an unpublished official German document given to him by Russian intelligence that, in Pushkow's words, declares Russia to be an "enemy" of Germany.

Roberts writes on July 24 about "Armageddon" approaching, citing Zuesse's June 6 article, referring to it as a "report" on "a German newspaper leak of a Bundeswehr decison to declare Russia to be an enemy nation of Germany." The link that Roberts provides is not to the "leak," however, but to Zuesse's article, which does not provide a link to what he is "reporting" on either, and which turns out also not to be a "leak" at all but merely the report of a Twitter message by Pushkow.

Note that during all of this "reporting," none of the "reporters," neither Roberts nor Zuesse nor his source (DWN), nor even, as far as we know, DWN's source, Pushkow, have actually read the document that they are talking about, the German White Paper 2016, because it was not published until July 13 (in German and English, here). Roberts is the only actor in this chain of rumor-mongering (to put it mildly) who could definitely have read what they are all talking about, but I doubt very much that he did because he does not quote from or link to it but refers only to Zuesse's article, and Zuesse definitely had not read it.

If either Zuesse or Roberts had actually read the document, they could have had plenty to say about it (e.g., see the critique), but I doubt that they would have indulged in the same degree of hyperbole if they had actually read it because it simply does not express the extreme position that Roberts, following Zuesse, following DWN following Pushkow's Tweet, attributes to it.

So what does the 144-page German White Paper actually say about Russia? It is not fascinating reading and contains no surprises, reiterating and emphasizing Germany's commitment to NATO and its "close security partnership with the United States" (p. 23 and passim), but it does not say that "Germany is preparing for a war against Russia" (Zuesse) or anything about a "decision of the German government declaring Russia to be an enemy" (Zuesse quoting DWN quoting Alexei Pushkow's Tweet) -- or in fact anything like that.

It does say a number of things that deserve serious critique, but nothing on the order of the exaggerated "reporting" of Roberts and Zuesse. For example:

"Russia is openly calling the European peace order into question with its willingness to use force to advance its own interests and to unilaterally redraw borders guaranteed under international law, as it has done in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. This has far-reaching implications for security in Europe and thus for the security of Germany.

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Former teacher, born in the US now a German citizen. Author of "Correspondence with Vincent Salandria," "Looking for the Enemy," "The Transparent Conspiracy," et al. and most recently "Chomsky, Prouty and Me." I blog at (more...)

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