One of these days the American people will declare, “Radio Free Europe is absolutely useless.” The propaganda arm of the CIA and the US State Department during the first Cold War, RFE/RL is now nothing more a comedic waste of taxpayer money. If the real Lady Liberty ever finds out about these lies uttered in her name, she will cut out her own tongue to spite the betrayers of Trust.
Over the last 24 months the world has witnessed an utterly foolish, deceitful, and sad occurrence: nearly all the news and information Americans and other English speakers consume is manufactured, tilted, shaken and baked, to deceive and to manipulate. From an American perspective, the notion of a “free press” is dead as a door nail. One good example of this can be found in comparing known State department propagandists’ speak, with the overall media agenda. Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) author Brian Whitmore’s recent piece on RFE’s “The Power Vertical” – serves as a prime example of this. Allow me to introduce you to “Why Putin Is Losing” – the swan song of a multi-billion dollar Washington propaganda war.
(Special author note: Why does the name “Power Vertical” sound so Pentagon-like? I am remembering “Operation Enduring Freedom, or Imminent Resolve, and thinking of a media equivalent called “Operation Incurable Bullshit!”)
Sticks and Stones
“Why Putin Is Losing” offers us not one grain of truth, which is the first attribute of any bad lie. Whitmore’s piece, like all of his Putin bashing, relies on paid off witnesses to find the innocent guilty in the court of public opinion. While the audience witnesses Vladimir Putin spanking Obama and the entire Western leadership like the proverbial “red headed stepchild” at every turn, somehow the punishment is overlooked. Like some pot-smoking hippie form back in the day, this author exhales blue clouds of apparent “dope” smoke in our general direction:
“After spending nearly half a billion dollars to get its message out to the world, after unleashing armies of trolls to disrupt Western news sites, after launching the most widespread disinformation campaign since the end of the Cold War, after all this, Russia’s global image is in the toilet.“
All I can think of reading this stuff is how crybabies all seem so pitiful. The sellout reporters around the world, they all seem like the schoolyard sneaks you all remember. You know, the ones who did evil things to you, only to blame you for your own pain when the schoolmaster arrived. “Look, look, it was little Johnny who set the lunchroom on fire!” Radio Free Europe, which gets readers mostly from Reddit and Kyiv Post, is the foreign policy equivalent of Chicken Little screaming; “Putin, Putin, it was Putin who done it!” How pitiful it is when we resort to “sticks and stones” instead of truths.
Whitmore’s latest version of “Putin is done, done, done” quotes another Washington sellout and crybaby Leonid Bershidsky too, plus some official sounding BS from Pew Research, to convince the terminally stupid how TIME’s most influential Earthling (Putin), is somehow unpopular. The sum effect of the story becomes one resembling Wile E. Coyote slamming into the dust below Putin, instead of a Power-Vertical-ACME-Rocket skyward. (Thinkers, note: Yes, our government is that stupid!)
To discover just why America’s voice resonates like that big dust “poof” we see the coyote make at the bottom of the gorge, we need only to look at Whitmore’s boss, Jeffrey Shell of the Broadcast Board of Governors. Please excuse my rapid-fire metaphors, while I stomp up and down on Shell and his US Government certified broadcasting-like Yosemite Sam (sorry).
The Chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, and the President of Comcast Programming at Comcast Corporation, Jeffrey Shell, tells Radio Free Europe what to broadcast. While he is at it, he also helps run NBC, Universal, Inc., along with the likes of his boss there, Steve Burke. Burke is also on the boards of Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase. So, without following the breadcrumbs to billionaire moguls like Warren Buffet here, these guys dictate what is seen, read, heard, and strategized for every media affiliate in the Western hemisphere, including Radio Free Europe.
I have mentioned Pew Research Center briefly, but the reader should understand the deep seeded bias that grips Western information entities overall. The Pew popularity pole RFE/RL cites is authored by Bruce Stokes, an expert on polling, and one of the authors of so-called “American exceptionalism.” The former Clinton adviser is a gifted double speak bean-counter, and also a former senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Stokes is very adept, like any reliable accountant, at bending numbers in order to prove whatever needs proving. Stokes’ polling Putin popularity (PDF) tells one story for RFE/RL, and this Foreign Policy (FP) piece tells of the growing distrust for NATO among European nations.
This is fairly easily explained too, as Mr. Stokes is yet another Washington think tank curmudgeon, a key “expert” in the US foreign policy thrust to expand NATO after the USSR disintegrated. On Pew Research’s credibility, any keen observer can read the dogma there. When Obama is the subject, the headline of the research reads one way. When Putin or Russia are in focus, Pew Research’s voice changes to the negative, an example headline from September 2013 reads: “A Popular Obama Heads to G20.” As for Mr. Stokes’ dialogue when Obama is the subject, the Pew study entitled, “How the World Sees Obama,” from 2014, starts off like this:
“Beleaguered at home, U.S. President Barack Obama remains beloved in many nations abroad. “
As a form of “owned media,” RFE/RL bragged recently about having discovered Mr. Putin’s so-called troll factory in St. Petersburg. The truth of that matter is, America’s troll army numbers in the tens of thousands, no matter what Russian media is claimed to have mustered. One case in point is, every US Ambassador on Earth is a type of troll, as are the members of their staffs on Twitter and other networks. Added to these, the Unites States Armed Forces, the corporate media, and scores of billionaire business people’s networks permeate social media and the normal media channels with State Department droning. America is, for all intents and purposes, the North Korea of fake free press. Then if we throw in a few dozens of disgruntled and outcast Russian oligarchs like Mikhail Khodorkovsky cast, what you have is a snake nest of crooks and moronic cronies, the likes of which the world has never seen. And America’s media roots for these ruthless people to take Putin, Russia, or anyone in their way, down. This is the reality. The world the billionaires own is so exceptionally free, now isn’t it?
Obama’s 44 Magnum Solution
Speaking of Putin, and the big bad sanctions Obama orchestrated, Russia is about to emerge as the hands-down winner of title bout for global domination. Sorry Mr. Obama, your Smith & Wesson sanctions gun turned out to be a pop gun. The West’s sanctions over Ukraine and Crimea leveled on Russia, and will perpetuate massive and stable growth in the years to come. (I hear and audible “Pop” and no KABAAAM!)
As evidence of this, we can turn to Sberbank CIB’s Evgeny Gavrilenkov, one expert who has a convincing argument, one accepted by many international investors. According to Gavrilenkov, these timely sanctions spurred Russian investors to pay off debt, rather than investing in elaborate energy growth that would have cost billions. The gist of his main argument is, the sanctions prepared Russia for the drop in oil prices, which, in turn, created an atmosphere of conservatism in terms of investments.
Russia’s foreign debt, unlike that of the Western allies, dropped by more than $130 billion last year, and by some $40 billion in Q1 of 2015. Gavrilenkov also contends the fall of the ruble had nothing to do with the sanctions, and everything to do with a normal economic trend. Putin’s banning of foreign produce may appear as a negative when increased food prices inside Russia are concerned, but for businesses inside Russia, the added revenue builds growth and jobs. While I am no economist, I do know Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are dedicated to helping SMEs. The logic here is simple actually: how do you grow a country? This is the real question we should be asking.
Gabrilenkov is not alone in his assertions that sanctions are a blessing for Russia. Vladimir Putin himself has made no bones about pointing out the benefits, in particular these sanctions helping Russia diversify away from a reliance on solely energy exports. Evidence of Russia’s growing industry base is best shown in technology and the very agricultural commodities sanctions have helped. Make no mistake: Russia is self-sufficient: no other country on Earth has the resources, and the human will, to thrive, as Mother Russia. The worst mistake the West has made is to isolate this country. When you isolate Russia, you give her more power.
On An American Pinocchio
Whitmore’s assertions that Russia has trashed her reputation are ludicrous. America and Britain, and even Germany and France, these nations have trashed their reputations. We don’t need to look at a corporate-controlled US research think-tank for evidence of this. Putin orchestrating the recent BRICS agreements, cements Russia in the lead of a new world economic powerhouse. As for Obama and what he’s done for my countrymen, the United States is feared, and that is all. The dollar is on the way out, the EU has lost faith in US protectionism, and the UK is ready to jump ship on America as soon as a better solution arrives. I haven’t the space to delve into these contentions, but Germany’s reluctance of late speaks volumes as to Obama’s heavy handed détente tactics. It won’t take much for Europe to wave goodbye to American mafia protection. If we are not careful, the American Pinocchio may turn back into a wooden puppet before long.
As for Putin and Russia losing, even Reuters was forced to report when 59 percent of Russians polled said West sanctions would help, rather than harm their country. Russians are notoriously tough, as compared to their Western counterparts, when it comes to facing adversity. It’s no small factor, the Russian people having thrived or survived in economic chaos, while others of the rest of us were spoiled and drugged by subsidized capitalism. If we are speaking of winning or losing as a function of capability to withstand, Putin’s people are lean and mean. Meanwhile, the opposing citizenry stand fat and sassy, with a cheeseburger in one hand, and a TV remote in the other, fully convinced that Rambo can whip the whole Russian military.
To sum up my own frustration at seeing people misled, allow me to frame the societal reality here. In the last two years I have heard not one whimper of complaint or pissing and moaning from any Russian I’ve spoken with. That is, except concerning the unfairness and untruth of accusations against their country and their highly popular leader. Conversely, on the UK front, here in Germany, and especially from my home in the US of A, the opposite is true. Fears of a race war brewing, jobs that don’t matter, Obama bypassing the Constitution, and a disgust for crooked politicians and billionaires, all this and more tax citizens. Once you get passed the stories of Super Bowl cheaters, and the next celebrity gossip trend, Americans are largely depressed over the situation in my country. Apathy, fear, mistrust, and a feeding frenzy underway to satiate with instant gratification – the consumer society is overdosing like never before. Nobody really knows what or who to believe, but the fantasy drones on.
Has Vladimir Putin lost anything? In my personal opinion, the man cannot lose, because he is not childish. As for the collective vision of Putin, and of this America-Russia political mess, I am reminded of something Mahatma Gandhi once said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. “
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.