PROPAGANDA. Watch for these news items in your local media outlet to indicate when it stops re-typing and starts reporting. Who is what in the new govt in Kiev; the sniper story; General Dempsey has no evidence the soldiers in Crimea are Russians; what the treaty allows Russia to have in Crimea; whether Yanukovych was deposed according to the constitution. There are others but these are a start. Most have had some mention in Europe but very little in North America. The Guardian seems to have the most even coverage. While waiting, amuse yourself by applying to the USA the US State Department method of getting rid of presidents you don’t like. (Number 4; no messy constitutions). Or enjoy the psychoanalysis of Putin.
“REMEMBER THE YELLOW WATER!” I steal this from Gordon Hahn: remember all the stories about Sochi? Many of them outright lies? Don’t be taken in again. Remember the yellow water. And everything worked.
NOT SELLING. But the information war doesn’t seem to be selling. In the Ossetian War the West’s propaganda line was well accepted and it was only months later that the truth started to appear. This time however, I notice that many commenters spurn the standard line. On many websites 50% or more do not buy it. Why the difference? The New Media is more powerful and there are more alternate sources of information than your local media outlets; too many people have heard US diplomats stage-directing things; the rather flippant reaction by Ashton to the sniper story; words of sobriety from Kissinger, Cohen or Matlock. A few examples of these sceptical comments.
DEVELOPMENT. Very interesting chart from World Bank data comparing incomes of the former USSR countries in 1994 with 2012. Two things leap out: the Baltics haven’t done better, despite NATO and EU, than Belarus. And how badly the successive gangs of thieves and fantasists have served Ukraine – it’s dead last.
CRIMEA POLL. The respondents on Sunday are offered two questions: join Russia? Stay in Ukraine with 1992 Constitution. Polling at the moment expects 80% yes to the first. My guess is that Moscow will wait to see if anything develops before saying yes. Remember it only recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia after a war.
CHINA. I don’t recall Beijing expressing an opinion on previous Western overthrows but it has this time. Indeed, Beijing’s statements – enigmatically expressed in its media – are becoming more outspoken. The latest from Global Times says “Chinese public opinion should firmly stand by Russia and support its resistance to pressure from the West”. Interesting way to put it, don’t you think? “pressure from the West”. This may prove to be the most significant consequence of this idiotic Western adventure.
UKRAINE NATIONAL GUARD. With the discovery that the Armed Forces barely exist, the Rada has decided to create a 60,000-strong national guard. Given that “a source in the government” has said that some members will be recruited from “activists” involved in the protests, we will learn whether the neo-nazis are indeed just something in the “Russian media’s fun-house mirror”.
PROBABLY NOT COINCIDENCES. A Russian ICBM was successfully tested; a big air defence exercise is on; an airborne division is exercising. All “long-planned” no doubt like the US warship in the Black Sea. However, in light of Kiev’s statement that there are 220,000 Russian troops on its borders, Moscow is allowing a reconnaissance flight to show Kiev that there are not.
CORRUPTION. Turning to Russia, the dismissed Defence Minister, Anatoliy Serdyukov, has been amnestied. At first glance (and second) this would seem to make a mockery of Putin’s oft-repeated promises that no one is exempt in the anti-corruption effort. He seems to have been surrounded with corruption but has escaped personal blame. Interested people may follow the discussion here. One theory is that he is being protected by higher levels – ie Medvedev or Putin or, alternatively, he has something on one of them. (The weakness with that theory is that he would hardly have been fired in the first place.) Another theory is that these kinds of high-level cases never come to a satisfactory conclusion: the swindles are so complicated, involve so many people, the parts are so deniable that it is almost impossible to put a case together – see, for example, the Lockheed case. It is always possible that he was a nincompoop who just didn’t notice. Nonetheless it is a shabby ending to a case that seemed to establish Putin’s seriousness.