By Edward Curtin
“Ingsoc. The sacred principles of ingsoc. Newspeak, double-speak, the mutability of the past.” – George Orwell, 1984
As today dawned, I was looking out the window into the cold grayness with small patches of snow littering the frozen ground. As light snow began to fall, I felt a deep mourning in my soul as a memory came to me of another snowy day in 1972 when I awoke to news of Richard Nixon’s savage Christmas bombing of North Vietnam with more than a hundred B-52 bombers, in wave after wave, dropping death and destruction on Hanoi and other parts of North Vietnam. I thought of the war the United States is now waging against Russia via Ukraine and how, as during the U.S. war against Vietnam, few Americans seem to care until it becomes too late. It depressed me.
Soon after I was greeted by an editorial from The New York Times’ Editorial Board, “A Brutal New Phase of the War in Ukraine.” It is a piece of propaganda so obvious that only those desperate to believe blatant lies would not fall down laughing. Yet it is no laughing matter, for The N.Y. Times is advocating for a wider war, more lethal weapons for Ukraine, and escalation of the fighting that risks nuclear war. So their title is apt because they are promoting the brutality. This angered me.
The Times’ Editorial Board tells us that President Putin, like Hitler, is mad.
“Like the last European war, this one is mostly one man’s madness.” Russia and Putin are “cruel”; are conducting a “regular horror” with missile strikes against civilian targets; are “desperate”; are pursuing Putin’s “delusions”; are waging a “terrible and useless war”; are “committing atrocities”; are responsible for “murder, rape and pillaging,” etc.
On the other hand, “a heroic Ukraine” “has won repeated and decisive victories against Russian forces” who have lost “well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded,” according to the “reliable” source, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley. To add to this rosy report, the Ukrainians seem to have suffered no casualities since none are mentioned by the cozy Times’ Editorial Board members from their keyboards on Eighth Avenue. When you support a U.S. war, as has always been The Times’ modus operandi as a stenographer for the government, mentioning the dead pawns used to accomplish the imperialists’ dreams is bad manners. So are the atrocities committed by those forces, so they too have been omitted. Neo-Nazis, the Azov Battalion? They too must never have existed since they are not mentioned.
But then, according to the esteemed editorial writers, this is not a U.S. proxy war waged via Ukraine by U.S./NATO “to strip Russia of its destiny and greatness.” No, it is simply Russian aggression, supported by “the Kremlin’s propaganda machinery” that has churned “out false narratives about a heroic Russian struggle against forces of fascism and debauchery.” U.S./NATO were “horrified by the crude violation of the postwar order,” so we are laughingly told, and so came to Ukraine’s defense as “Mr. Putin’s response has been to throw ever more lives, resources and cruelty at Ukraine.”
Nowhere in this diatribe by the Times’ Board of propagandists – and here the whole game is given away for anyone with a bit of an historical sense – is there any mention of the U.S. engineered coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014. It just didn’t happen. Never happened. Magic by omission. The U.S., together with the Ukrainian government “led” by the puppet-actor “President Volodymyr Zelensky,” are completely innocence parties, according to the Times. (Note also, that nowhere in this four page diatribe is President Putin addressed by his title, as if to say that “Mr. Putin” is illegitimate and Zelensky is the real thing.)
All the problems stem from when “Mr. Putin seized Crimea and stirred up a secessionist conflict in eastern Ukraine n 2014.”
Nowhere is it mentioned that for years on end:
that U.S./NATO has been moving troops and weapons right up to Russia’s borders,
that George W. Bush pulled the U.S. out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and that
Trump did the same with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty,
that the U.S. has set up so-called anti-ballistic missile sites in Poland and Rumania and asserted its right to a nuclear first-strike,
that more and more countries have been added to NATO’s eastern expansion despite promises to Russia to the contrary,
that 15,000 plus mostly Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine have been killed by Ukrainian forces for years before February 2022,
that the Minsk agreements were part of a scheme to give time for the arming of Ukraine, that the U.S. has rejected all calls from Russia to respect its borders and its integrity, that the U.S./NATO has surrounded Russia with military bases,
that there was a vote in Crimea after the coup,
that the U.S. has been for years waging economic war on Russia via sanctions, etc.
In short, all of the reasons that Russia felt that it was under attack for decades and that the U.S. was stone deaf to its appeals to negotiate these threats to its existence.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that if all were reversed and Russia had put troops and weapons in Mexico and Canada that the United States would respond forcefully.
This editorial is propaganda by omission and strident stupidity by commission.
The editorial has all its facts “wrong,” and not by accident. The paper may say that its opinion journalists’ claims are separate from those of its newsroom, yet their claims echo the daily barrage of falsehoods from its front pages, such as:
- Ukraine is winning on the battlefield.
- “Russia faces decades of economic stagnation and regression even if the war ends soon.”
- That on Jan.14, as part of its cruel attacks on civilian targets, a Russian missile struck an apartment building in Dnipro, killing many.
- Only one man can stop this war – Vladimir Putin – because he started it.
- Until now, the U.S. and its allies were reluctant to deploy heavy weapons to Ukraine “for fear of escalating this conflict into an all-in East-West war.”
- Russia is desperate as Putin pursues “his delusions.”
- Putin is “isolated from anyone who would dare to speak truth to his power.”
- Putin began trying to change Ukraine’s borders by force in 2014.
- During the last 11 months Ukraine has won repeated and decisive victories against Russian forces …. The war is at a stalemate.”
- The Russian people are being subjected to the Kremlin’s propagandamachinery “churning out false narratives.”
This is expert opinion for dummies. A vast tapestry of lies, as Harold Pinter said in his Nobel Prize address. The war escalation the editorial writers are promoting is in their words, “this time pitting Western arms against a desperate Russia,” as if the U.S./NATO does not have CIA and special forces in Ukraine, just weapons, and as if “this time” means it wasn’t so for the past nine years at least as the U.S. was building Ukraine’s military and arms for this very fight.
It is a fight they will lose in the days to come. Russia was, is, and will triumph.
Everything in the editorial is disingenuous. Simple propaganda: the good guys against the bad guys. Putin another Hitler. The good guys are winning, just as they did in Vietnam, until reality dawned and it had to be admitted they weren’t (and didn’t). History is repeating itself.
Little has changed and so my morning sense of mourning when I remembered Nixon and Kissinger’s savagery at Christmas 1972 was appropriate. As then, so today, we are being subjected to a vast tapestry of lies told by the corporate media for their bosses, as the U.S. continues its doomed efforts to control the world. It is not Russia that is desperate now, but propagandists such as the writers of this strident and stupid editorial. It is not the Russian people who need to wake up, as they claim, but the American people and those who still cling to the myth that The New York Times Corporation is an organ of truth. It is the Ministry of Truth with its newspeak, double-speak, and its efforts to change the past.
Let Harold Pinter have the last words:
The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.
Edward Curtin is a prominent author, researcher and sociologist based in Western Massachusetts.
23 January 2023