Poking the Russian bear

"The truth of the matter is that Russia has not been the aggressor in world events over the last 30 years". Image courtesy of RTE Brainstorm.
Feb 07 2019 Posted: 10:37 GMT

Author: Emily Tock

Opinion: anti-Russia rhetoric is endemic throughout the west as part of what seems to be a concerted effort to isolate and demonise the country

"If you put that in context with everything else we knew the Jews were doing to interfere with the election, and just the historical practices of the Jews, who typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favour, whatever, which is a typical Jewish technique. So we were concerned."

Imagine if former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that on a US political talk show. Hackles would be rightly raised at this rank anti-Semitism,and justified condemnation would issue from the interviewer, media and the Anti-Defamation League.

What Clapper actually said to Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on May 28th 2017 was as follows: "if you put that in context with everything else we knew the Russians were doing to interfere with the election, and just the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favour, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique. So we were concerned."

From RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland, Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace studies at the University of Bradford, says we could be entering a post-arms control era after Russia joined the US in suspending involvement in the Nuclear Forces Treaty

The presenter did not utter a word of protest at this blatantly racist language scapegoating the entire Russian people. With recent statements from UK MP Priti Patel that possible food shortages in Ireland should be used as leverage in Brexit negotiations, racism, ignorance and insularity seem to be par for the course in political rhetoric recently.

But where does language like this lead? Certainly not to international co-operation or peace. And language demonising an entire country of 160 million hasn’t been limited to the bizarre and frightening world of US politics in the age of Trump. It is endemic throughout the west and is at the centre of a concerted effort to isolate and demonise Russia, which the west regards as a threat to its continued hegemonic global control. It is disturbingly reminiscent of propaganda used in the run-up to the two World Wars, but it is being used this time to bait a nuclear Russian bear.

The truth of the matter is that Russia has not been the aggressor in world events over the last 30 years. Since the fall of the former Soviet Union, the United States and other NATO nations have pursued a foreign policy towards Russia ranging from strong-arming it to adopt predatory capitalism and privatisation of national resources and reneging on NATO’s promise not to expand further east than Germany, while Russia shrank its borders and dissolved the Warsaw Pact. In recent years, this foreign policy has expanded to crippling economic sanctions on Russia and its trading partners, unjustified expulsion of Russian diplomats and seizure of Russian-owned diplomatic buildings and land, and a ridiculous slew of accusations of supposed Russian perfidy. 

From RTÉ Radio 1's Marian Finucane Show, Daniel McLaughlin, Central and Eastern Europe Correspondent for the Irish Times, on the major tensions between Russia and Ukraine

The west has pronounced Russia guilty of countless crimes with no presentation of evidence, upending the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. It accused Russia of invading the Crimea and continues to promote this simplistic, erroneous version of the historical reality of legal Russian military bases in the Crimea, a region populated by many generations of ethnic Russians who voted for annexation to Russia.

The west has accused Russia of meddling in elections in the United States, France, and Germany. French and German investigations have been unable to confirm these accusations. Various US intelligence agencies have not provided any hard evidence to support the accusations of "meddling" or "collusion" between the Trump administration and the Russian government, relying on charges of financial crimes and faulty intelligence "assessments". Even media outlets are warning that Mueller’s special investigation will ultimately fizzle out.

The west expelled over 100 Russian diplomats after one unsubstantiated accusation by Theresa May of Russia’s alleged (and ineffective) poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter by a nerve agent ten times more lethal than Sarin. The UK has paraded a litany of ever-changing evidence, timelines and obfuscation in this case. Moreover, a UK government financed programme named Integrity Initiative may have had a hand in the framing of the Skripal case, according to the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, which released a briefing note on leaked documents regarding the Skripal affair, attacks on Jeremy Corbin and anti-Russian propaganda activities inside the US and Eastern Europe.

From RTÉ One's Prime Time, Richard Boyd Barrett and Colm Brophy debate the Government's decision to expel a Russian diplomat in solidarity with the UK over the Skripal poisoning

This is in line with what appears to be a deliberately cultivated Russophobic western foreign policy, one which is trumpeted by the media. The most recent attempts at demonising Russia include The Times publishing an article accusing children’s show Masha and the Bear of being Putin propaganda. Not to be outdone, the BBC published an article on how Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon.

The New York Times promoted a series of homophobic cartoons lampooning supposed sexual relations between Trump and Putin. Another Times' piecehighlights how Russia allegedly duped naive African-Americans into not voting in the 2016 election, the inference being that US racism is solely a secret plot thought up by Russia in 2016. Trump’s latest announcement of pulling US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan is being portrayed as a "gift" to Putin. And finally, the Times has just published another piece which, again, purports that "corruption is in Russia’s DNA"

Western governments anxious to maintain a uni-polar world order against a resurgent Russia are flirting with disaster by engaging in such rhetoric. The demonising is increasingly echoed by the media to further this agenda. Academic Stephen F. Cohen queries whether politicians and media "actually prefer trying to impeach Trump to avoiding war with Russia". They haven’t yet accused Russians of poisoning wells but, unless more balanced language is heard, I fear that day is not far off, especially if attacking a little Russian girl and her bear is considered fair game.


Marketing and Communications Office