“If they only knew the truth”
The “If the Russians only knew” meme: The fact is Russian audiences interested in politics know a lot and certainly far more than their counter-parts in the west. This should not surprise anyone who has been watching Russia and watching western media coverage Russia over the past few years. The intentional distorting of “the Russia story” is breathtaking in its breath and depth – it is a propaganda war without historical peer. Rarely are there any facts used, there is an absence of chronology, missing is any sense of causality, and the overt willingness to deny any responsibility about things written or said about Russia.
Nonetheless, the west lectures Russia about media professionalism. Russians no longer trust western media when it comes to coverage of their country. This applies also to western media coverage of Iran, Syria, and, of course Ukraine. Russian audiences are aware and fuming at how the West uses and abuses journalism for crude geopolitical gains.
Who wins, who loses?
The “Who lost Russia” meme is one of the most arrogant and long-term western media and policy themes in play. Russia now and always will be a country not to be won or lost by anyone outside Russia itself. This meme needs to be re-worded to ask a more germane question: Why does the west’s policy toward Russia continue to go from bad to worse? Why do the West’s rhetoric and intentions become more shrill and violent? No one in the halls of power in Washington (and its supportive“stenography union” echo chamber media) has ever been held responsible for the catastrophic bi-partisan policy approach toward Russia since the end of the Cold War.
Over the past two decades there can be not doubt who has won Russia – it is the Russian people themselves. They are richer and freer today than they have been in their entire history. Washington and Brussels (and their pliant media) will continue to “judge” and “suggest,” and “berate” their behavior, but they are the real losers in all of this. Fortunately a solid of majority of Russians today no longer look to the west for inspiration. There is plenty at home to be proud of.
Empire: Who has already built one?
The most common fantasy meme regarding Russia is its alleged desire to regain empire. This claim is repeated 24/7 by western media and cited more times than not as the motive behind Putin’s “aggression.” However, there is scant evidence to support this wild claim. In fact it is often forgotten how Vladimir Putin during his first and second terms as president repeatedly reached out to the west to reform Europe’s security structures to encompass the interests of Europe and Russia as equal partners. The west, particularly Washington, would have nothing to do with any notions of security equality. Russia had to completely submit or suffer the west’s full spectrum assault.
That assault started after Washington’s minion in Georgia – Mikheil Saakashvili – attacked recognized peacekeepers and civilians in the breakaway republic of SouthOssetia in August 2008. Russia responded militarily, but importantly did not make any attempt to take and occupy Tbilisi. When faced with western-back military action on its borders Russia will react. Tragically this tenet of Russia’s security policy Washington refuses to take on board.
The Ukraine fiasco is further evidence that Russia does not have imperial ambitions. If Moscow wanted to take Kiev militarily, it could do so in a couple of days. However, this will not happen. The Russian Empire and the Soviet Union were a net loss for its core nation – the Russians. There is no national debate about regaining empire. Only voices in the west talk about this. Russians do not want to make the same mistakes of the past as the U.S. continues to expand its real global empire through the use of force.
Ukraine: Washington’s filthy hand
Ukraine is a media meme that has rapidly and widely become associated with the words quagmire, hopeless, senseless cruelty and insanity. The western designed and activated regime change in Kiev disgusts and unites the Russian public like no other issue sense independence in 1991. Proclaimed western values have been left in tatters in the destroyed homes and lives of the Donbas.
The west’s portrayal of this civil war as a Ukraine conflict with Russia rings hollow when put under scrutiny. With the exception of Moscow’s traitorous fifth column liberals, the vast majority sees through the lies of western propaganda. The truth is the people of the Donbas continue to defend themselves (and often with degrees of Russian help) against the aggression delivered by Kiev’s western-backed right-wing and even neo-fascist militias. It is interesting to note that among the media memes mentioned thus far, this is the one cracking under pressure.
Alternative and independent media (and some rights groups) have started to shame the corporate media shielding the corrupt and murderous regime in Kiev. Nonetheless, the west’s “ministers of propaganda” always have recourse to claim that all that is bad in Ukraine is “Putin’s fault.” Much could be said about the west’s policies toward Syria as well.
Putin, the one and only
Vladimir Putin is a media meme all on his own. The Russian president is widely liked and respected among his people. His foreign policy protecting and advancing Russia’s interests on the world stage has almost universal acceptance at home. This is what makes the west’s hatred of all things related to Putin of supreme interest to many Russians.
A great deal of western print media is instantly translated into Russian. The ahistorical and mindless missives written by Washington’s guardians of empire are all a click away (and the reaction is a mixture of laughter and seething anger). Russian audiences have access to CNN, BBC, France 24, Sky News, and Al-Jazeera. What is said about their president does not have to be censored or filtered. The lack of knowledge and transparent hatred of Russia is obvious for all here to see. The more the West tries to demonize and isolate Putin, the more his place in history as the Russian who said “NO” to the Empire is assured.
Another reason Russians have to be proud.
Peter Lavelle is anchor of RT political debate program CrossTalk. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of his employer.