| War Criminal: Why Is Henry Kissinger Walking Around Free?

Why Is Henry Kissinger Walking Around Free?Andy PiascikZNet.


Two months ago, hundreds of thousands of Chileans somberly marked the 40th anniversary of their nation’s September 11th terrorist event. It was on that date in 1973 that the Chilean military, armed with a generous supply of funds and weapons from the United States, and assisted by the CIA and other operatives, overthrew the democratically-elected government of the moderate socialist Salvador Allende. Sixteen years of repression, torture and death followed under the fascist Augusto Pinochet, while the flow of hefty profits to US multinationals – IT&T, Anaconda Copper and the like – resumed. Profits, along with concern that people in other nations might get ideas about independence, were the very reason for the coup and even the partial moves toward nationalization instituted by Allende could not be tolerated by the US business class.

Henry Kissinger was national security advisor and one of the principle architects – perhaps the principle architect – of the coup in Chile. US-instigated coups were nothing new in 1973, certainly not in Latin America, and Kissinger and his boss Richard Nixon were carrying on a violent tradition that spanned the breadth of the 20th century and continues in the 21st – see, for example, Venezuela in 2002 (failed) and Honduras in 2009 (successful). Where possible, such as in Guatemala in 1954 and Brazil in 1964, coups were the preferred method for dealing with popular insurgencies. In other instances, direct invasion by US forces such as happened on numerous occasions in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and many other places, was the fallback option.

The coup in Santiago occurred as US aggression in Indochina was finally winding down after more than a decade. From 1969 through 1973, it was Kissinger again, along with Nixon, who oversaw the slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. It is impossible to know with precision how many were killed during those four years; all the victims were considered enemies, including the vast majority who were non-combatants, and the US has never been much interested in calculating the deaths of enemies. Estimates of Indochinese killed by the US for the war as a whole start at four million and are likely more, perhaps far more. It can thus be reasonably extrapolated that probably more than a million, and certainly hundreds of thousands, were killed while Kissinger and Nixon were in power.

In addition, countless thousands of Indochinese have died in the years since from the affects of the massive doses of Agent Orange and other Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction unleashed by the US. Many of us here know (or, sadly, knew) soldiers who suffered from exposure to such chemicals; multiply their numbers by 1,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 – again, it’s impossible to know with accuracy – and we can begin to understand the impact on those who live in and on the land that was so thoroughly poisoned as a matter of US policy.

Studies by a variety of organizations including the United Nations also indicate that at least 25,000 people have died in Indochina since war’s end from unexploded US bombs that pocket the countryside, with an equivalent number maimed. As with Agent Orange, deaths and ruined lives from such explosions continue to this day. So 40 years on, the war quite literally goes on for the people of Indochina, and it is likely it will go on for decades more.

Near the end of his time in office, Kissinger and his new boss Gerald Ford pre-approved the Indonesian dictator Suharto’s invasion of East Timor in 1975, an illegal act of aggression again carried out with weapons made in and furnished by the US. Suharto had a long history as a bagman for US business interests; he ascended to power in a 1965 coup, also with decisive support and weapons from Washington, and undertook a year-long reign of terror in which security forces and the army killed more than a million people (Amnesty International, which rarely has much to say about the crimes of US imperialism, put the number at 1.5 million).

In addition to providing the essential on-the-ground support, Kissinger and Ford blocked efforts by the global community to stop the bloodshed when the terrible scale of Indonesian violence became known, something UN ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan openly bragged about. Again, the guiding principle of empire, one that Kissinger and his kind accept as naturally as breathing, is that independence cannot be allowed. That’s true even in a country as small as East Timor where investment opportunities are slight, for independence is contagious and can spread to places where far more is at stake, like resource-rich Indonesia. By the time the Indonesian occupation finally ended in 1999, 200,000 Timorese – 30 percent of the population – had been wiped out. Such is Kissinger’s legacy and it is a legacy well understood by residents of the global South no matter the denial, ignorance or obfuscation of the intelligentsia here.

If the United States is ever to become a democratic society, and if we are ever to enter the international community as a responsible party willing to wage peace instead of war, to foster cooperation and mutual aid rather than domination, we will have to account for the crimes of those who claim to act in our names like Kissinger. Our outrage at the crimes of murderous thugs who are official enemies like Pol Pot is not enough. A cabal of American mis-leaders from Kennedy on caused for far more Indochinese deaths than the Khmer Rouge, after all, and those responsible should be judged and treated accordingly.

The urgency of the task is underscored as US aggression proliferates at an alarming rate. Millions of people around the world, most notably in an invigorated Latin America, are working to end the “might makes right” ethos the US has lived by since its inception. The 99 percent of us here who have no vested interest in empire would do well to join them.

There are recent encouraging signs along those lines, with the successful prevention of a US attack on Syria particularly noteworthy. In addition, individuals from various levels of empire have had their lives disrupted to varying degrees. David Petraeus, for example, has been hounded by demonstrators since being hired by CUNY earlier this year to teach an honors course; in 2010, Dick Cheney had to cancel a planned trip to Canada because the clamor for his arrest had grown quite loud; long after his reign ended, Pinochet was arrested by order of a Spanish magistrate for human right violations and held in England for 18 months before being released because of health problems; and earlier this year, Efrain Rios Montt, one of Washington’s past henchmen in Guatemala, was convicted of genocide, though accomplices of his still in power have since intervened on his behalf to obstruct justice.

More pressure is needed, and allies of the US engaged in war crimes like Paul Kagame should be dealt with as Pinochet was. More important perhaps for those of in the US is that we hound Rumsfeld, both Clintons, Rice, Albright and Powell, to name a few, for their crimes against humanity every time they show themselves in public just as Petraeus has been. That holds especially for our two most recent War-Criminals-in-Chief, Barack Bush and George W. Obama.

Getting in Kissinger’s face

By Scipes, Kim at Nov 16, 2013 14:35 PM

For anyone interested, here’s my account of an interaction I had with this war criminal!

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KISSINGER XX

| Egypt’s Ricochet: Does Al-Sisi expect Pinochet’s fate?

Does Al-Sisi expect Pinochet’s fate? ~ Yasser Abu Hilalah, Al Jazeera, MEMO. This article is a translation of the Arabic text which appeared in Al Ghad newspaper, 13 September, 2103,

 

In the aftermath of the January 25 Revolution, General Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi said that the army’s interference in public life sets back the country by 30 or 40 years. There is some irony in that statement today, given his role as the leader of the coup which toppled President Mohamed Morsi, and the fact that the people of Chile have just commemorated the 40th anniversary of Augusto Pinochet‘s coup against President Salvador Allende.

Comparisons have already been made between the two coups in the past week or so. On the face of it, Pinochet’s was less of a surprise given the changes to Chile that Allende was proposing.

Mohammed Morsi, however, was not a communist, nor did he make major changes to the political or cultural identity of the country, as Allende had. Morsi did not put the Muslim Brotherhood‘s ideology into practice regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict and he did not cancel the Camp David Peace Treaty signed by his predecessor Anwar Sadat. He did not arrest corrupt businessmen and did not set up revolutionary trials of army officers and security agents who had shed Egyptian blood for many years. Morsi’s tragic flaw, I think, is that he thought that he could reconcile with hornets or pave the way for the remnants of the Mubarak regime, the so-called deep state, to be involved with the revolutionary forces.

As president, Morsi accepted the army’s conditions for the Constitution and let army officers control the largest segment of the government’s budget unmonitored. He also let the corrupt judicial system play with ballot outcomes. He did not even touch the mass media, which was subsidised from the pockets of the remnants and the enemies of the revolution to incite a civil war within Egypt. The mistake of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Morsi in particular, was that it is a conservative group which was put into revolutionary circumstances out of its depth and it did not have the resilience to deal with that situation.

In Chile, the communists were accused of the same crimes as the Brotherhood officials are. As in Egypt under Al-Sisi, the United States not only supported the Chilean coup but also described the army leader as the protector of democracy; Allende was a revolutionary communist who threatened American interests in Latin America. He launched radical economic reforms in favour of the labouring poor.

In his last speech, Allende told them, “I can tell the labourers that I will not resign. I will sacrifice my life for the principles which unite our nation. I believe in this country and its future. Other men will pass and this gray stage of the history of our nation will come to an end. You are advised to know, sooner or later, that new horizons for this nation will be opened and free men, like you, will pass through them. These are my last words and I know that my sacrifice will not go in vain.” After that, he was killed after refusing to bargain with the army or commit suicide using a pistol gifted to him by his comrade Fidel Castro.

Morsi’s last speech echoed Allende’s words. He spoke to the nation and different generations; sons and grandsons would know that their fathers refused to bargain away their country and freedom, and they preferred death over accepting the opinion of corrupted people. Likewise, Al-Sisi’s speech is reminiscent of Pinochet’s. He also told the people that he is the protector of the country from “terrible communism”, which he said threatens the state.

Pinochet left this world as a disgraced and disregarded dictator. He faced the ignominy of a public trial as an old man. Allende, on the other hand, still stands tall as a freedom fighter respected by the people as the man who did not betray those who voted for him. In that sense, Morsi can also hold his head up high, preferring self-respect in prison over abasement in the presidential palace.

Neither Allende nor Morsi were perfect in office. However, dictators tend not to learn from the mistakes of others. Those who have overthrown Morsi should remember that Pinochet’s was not the last trial of a dictator to take place. Generals in Turkey have also been put on trial, but is anyone learning from this lesson? Tomorrow’s big issue will not be about when to prosecute Mohamed Morsi but when to put Al-Sisi and his supporters on trial. History tells us that it is almost inevitable that this will happen. The question is, does Al-Sisi expect the same fate as Pinochet or has he learnt nothing from the past?

Yasser Abu Hilalah is the bureau chief of Al Jazeera’s office Amman, Jordan. This article is a translation of the Arabic text which appeared in Al Ghad newspaper, 13 September, 2103

Yasser Abu Hilalah

The mistake of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Morsi in particular, was that it is a conservative group which was put into revolutionary circumstances out of its depth and it did not have the resilience to deal with that situation.

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EgyptMassacre1

EgyptMassacre1

| The US is the Don Corleone of international politics!

The US is the Don Corleone of international politics

  ~ Adrian Salbuchi, RT.
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WikiLeaks recently published new documents showing that US global intelligence corporations like Stratfor worked hard in a failed attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected president.
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A supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hangs a pair of shoes at the front of the US embassy in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

A supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hangs a pair of shoes at the front of the US embassy in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

South America – Venezuela in particular – has been the target of a coordinated campaign by the US government and private industry over the past few years. But those of us who have been paying attention know this is nothing new.

WikiLeaks recently published new documents showing that US global intelligence corporations like Stratfor and its foreign offshoot CANVAS worked hard over the past decade (aided and abetted by US Government agencies) in a failed attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected president Hugo Chavez.

Meddling in the ‘Backyard’

The US corporate over-world has always worked closely with the CIA, the State Department and the Pentagon promoting the overthrow – known as “regime change in rogue states” – of governments that do not automatically align to US interests; or, better said, of governments that do not automatically align with the interests of the supra-national global power elite that is deeply embedded inside private and public power structures in the US.

This has been especially true throughout Latin America, traditionally America’s geopolitical and economic backyard, from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego.

For example, September 11th of this year (of all dates!) marks the 40th anniversary of the CIA-backed, financed and orchestrated overthrow and assassination of Chile’s democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.

Allende was replaced by a pro-US and pro-UK military junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet.  At the time, private corporations like ITT worked hand in hand with CIA operatives promoting strikes, social turmoil and waging psychological warfare through the local media.  Then it was Chile; now it’s Venezuela.

General Augusto Pinochet (left) poses with Chilean president and Marxist leader Salvador Allende 23 August 1973 in Santiago. (AFP Photo)

General Augusto Pinochet (left) poses with Chilean president and Marxist leader Salvador Allende 23 August 1973 in Santiago. (AFP Photo)

In fact, the 1970s and 1980s saw the Kissinger-designed and executed ‘Condor Plan’ finance and diplomatically support various military coups and regimes not only in Chile but in Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and other countries in the region.

Such US-UK support for authoritarian and criminal regimes would only stop when some Latin American general like Argentina’s General Leopoldo Galtieri went too far by doing something really stupid, like Argentina’s 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands.

Relatives of Argentine soldiers who died during Argentina's 1982 war over the Falkland Islands decorate tombs at a cemetery. (AFP Photo / Angeline Montoya)

Relatives of Argentine soldiers who died during Argentina’s 1982 war over the Falkland Islands decorate tombs at a cemetery. (AFP Photo / Angeline Montoya)

Barring that, all those US-backed coups used local military strongmen trained in the US Military’s School of the Americas in Panama to do as they pleased in their local countries, as long as: (a) they kept those countries aligned to US geopolitical imperatives which during the Cold War meant being staunchly anti-Communist; (b) accepted Chicago-Boys-style financial dependency and artificially created public debts; (c) kept local populations in permanent fear and thus‘disciplined and orderly.’

Since the fall of the former Soviet Union, however, these tactics changed dramatically.  Now US control over Latin American countries is centred on promoting ‘democracy.’ Well, actually, “the kind of democracy that we want to see,” as Hillary Clinton so eloquently put it when visiting ‘Arab Spring Egypt’ back in March 2011.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) shakes hands with Egyptians as she takes an unannounced walk through Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 18 days of protests that overthrew long time ally Hosni Mubarak, on March 16, 2011. (AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) shakes hands with Egyptians as she takes an unannounced walk through Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 18 days of protests that overthrew long time ally Hosni Mubarak, on March 16, 2011. (AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards)

Such money-controlled democracy is, of course, no democracy at all, but rather an obscene money-sloshing and media clownery system that catapults their favourite candidates into local positions of power.

When the US has its way as in Mexico, Colombia and Chile, and their candidates win local elections, then it’s all business as usual.

But when growing political awareness among the local populace elects presidents into power who prioritize the local national interest as in Ecuador (who just re-elected their fine president Rafael Correa), Bolivia (Evo Morales) and, most notably, Venezuela with Hugo Chavez, then the ‘regime change’ mega-juggernaut comes into full action.

Public and private initiative

In America, you never know whether it’s the White House and Congress running the country and the corporate over-world, or if it’s the other way around: The corporate over-world runs the White House, Congress and the country.

Recent WikiLeaks documents released on Venezuela describes Stratfor as “a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency.”

“The emails,” WikiLeaks goes on to explain, “show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.”

The filtered emails cover a wide range of issues on the energy sector, especially oil; political change and the state of right-wing forces inside Venezuela; and the state of the country’s armed forces. They also refer to Venezuela’s relations with Cuba, China, Russia and Iran, and provide bleak projections for the economy and the financial sector.

The Serbian-based and US-supported Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) is yet another such ‘global intelligence’ front of what, in practice, are organizations specializing in engineering social turmoil – even civil war – as countries like Serbia, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria have painfully learned.

The leaked emails from CANVAS had them explaining their recommended strategy for toppling governments, as in one revealing message to Stratfor:

“When somebody asks us for help, as in Vene (sic!) case, we usually ask them the question ‘and how would you do it?’. That means that the first thing is to create a situational analysis (the word doc I sent you) and after that comes “Mission Statement” (still left to be done) and then “Operational Concept”, which is the plan for campaign… For this case we have three campaigns: Unification of opposition, campaign for [September 2010 parliamentary elections] and parallel with that a ‘get out and vote’ campaign.”

Very straightforward!

Stratfor Global Intelligence CEO George Friedman (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

Stratfor Global Intelligence CEO George Friedman (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

Stratfor’s founder and chairman is one George Friedman, who is regularly interviewed in the Wall Street Journal, CNBC and CNN and is advisor to JPMorganChase, CitiGroup and Ernst & Young.  Stratfor’s president & CEO is Shea Morenz, who for many years was a senior officer at Goldman Sachs.  Not exactly corporations and megabanks bent on promoting the common good of the people of Venezuela, or of any other country in Latin America or elsewhere.

Clearly, there are no sharp lines separating these private intelligence publishers and analysts, think tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations, RAND Corporation, National Endowment for Democracy and major corporations, from public US-Government agencies like the CIA, NSA, USAID and the State Department.

In fact, throughout Latin America, lucid political observers will always keep an eye on what ‘La Embajada’ is up to. ‘La Embajada’ is Spanish for ‘The Embassy’ –  not just any embassy, of course, but the local Embassy of the United States.

No surprise then to learn that this batch of WikiLeaks documents reveals US-based firms working to overthrow Hugo Chavez by assisting and financing opposition candidates like Henrique Capriles Radonsky, who was Chavez’s main opposition candidate, coming in second place in last year’s presidential elections.

Venezuela's Democratic Unity coalition presidential candidates Capriles Radonsky. (AFP Photo / Juan Barreto)

Venezuela’s Democratic Unity coalition presidential candidates Capriles Radonsky. (AFP Photo / Juan Barreto)

Capriles Radonsky is strongly backed by US, European and Israeli  interests, thanks to his notable alignment to those countries’ objectives in Venezuela and the region.  Of Jewish background – in a country with a very tiny Jewish community – Radonsky promises to steer Venezuela away from the close ties forged by Chavez with Iran, Cuba, Russia, China and (until it was overrun and destroyed by NATO) also Libya.

Due to President Chavez’s ailing health, this public-private US initiative is again hard at work promoting all opposition forces inside Venezuela, whilst they eagerly await good news (for them) about president Chavez’s condition, hoping that he may have to relinquish the presidency he won late last year, which would mean new elections in a Venezuela without Chavez.

That would spell real tragedy for that country, as the US public-private initiative would again go into full ‘lets-get-our-boy-into-the-Miraflores-presidential-palace-in-Caracas’ Mode.

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather at Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather at Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

A tragedy not just for Venezuela but for the entire region as well, where the US continues holding full sway in countries like Colombia – whose president Juan Manuel Santos is a member of the Rockefeller-funded, New York-based ‘Americas Society’ that promotes in-roads into Latin America for the powerful Council on Foreign Relations, whose head office is just across the street from them on Park Avenue at 57th Street. And Mexico recently elected pro-US rich-boy Enrique Peña Nieto as president. Two countries where it’s business as usual.

‘Make it look like a democratic election’

In advising on how to engineer destabilisation, CANVAS told Stratfor, that “We only give them the tools to use.” Referring to the 2010 parliamentary elections, they wrote, “This year we are definitely ramping up activity in Venezuela… they have elections in September and we are in close connection with activists from there and people trying to help them (please keep this to yourself for now, no publication). The first phase of our preparation is under way.”

So, this is “the kind of democracy the US wants to see.” Or, as Don Corleone in ‘The Godfather’would recommend to agents and operatives if he sat in the State Department or the CIA: “Make it look like a democratic election.” 

Maybe Corleone’s best disciples are actually running the show after all.

AFP Photo / Geraldo Caso

AFP Photo / Geraldo Caso

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Kissinger A Hegemony A

War Zio 3 WMD Collage Manning Salute

| NYT: Great Paper. Great Propaganda Organ!

Great Paper. Great Propaganda Organ. ~ Edward S. HermanZMag

On October 11, 2011, Paul Krugman asserted on his blog that he had the privilege of writing two columns a week for “the world’s greatest newspaper,” the New York Times (NYT). The NYT is surely an outstanding paper, with exceptionally wide scope, many good journalists on board and publishing many interesting and enlightening articles. But if the standard by which we judge greatness is the quality of its service to the public interest, to the 99 percent who don’t own or advertise in newspapers or TV networks, or control or benefit directly and heavily from other corporate and financial entities, and/or exercise substantial influence on governments, the paper’s greatness is debatable.

 

In fact, a case can be made that the NYT is the world’s greatest—or at least most important—organ of state propaganda. Because of its great prestige, its being pegged as a “liberal” newspaper, and the paper’s allowing just enough dissent to give the appearance of balance and to make its most serious apologetics seem credible, the general public is not aware of how often and how effectively the paper serves the imperial state, normalizing U.S. imperial ventures and putting them in a favorable light—and providing systematic apologetics for abuses by it favored clients. The editors even belatedly admitted their war-supportive bias in the run-up to the UN Charter-violating and lie-based Iraq war. They are clearly doing the same in the case of Iran, where the paper has had almost daily accounts of Iran’s alleged moves toward nuclear weapons capability, while working on the premise that Israel’s (and the U.S.’s) actual nuclear weapons, and almost daily and credible threats, are perfectly acceptable and understandable and don’t even constitute essential context in discussing the Iran menace.

 

The paper has preserved its high reputation even as it has been repeatedly guilty of serious failures in its basic newspaper function, at huge social cost. The classic illustration is provided in their own editorial “The Lie That Wasn’t Shot Down” (ed., June 18, 1988), which acknowledged that their earlier furious news-editorial-propaganda barrage of 1983 claiming a deliberate and knowing Soviet destruction of the civilian Korean airliner 007 was based on a lie. Significantly, the counter-evidence cited in the five-years-late editorial was not uncovered by the paper’s own staff, but by a congressperson’s inquiry. So they swallowed an official lie that served the official party-line and the ongoing process of demonization of the “evil empire,” but despite all their resources never got around to examining whether it was valid.

 

When this great newspaper is in a propaganda mode, which is often, and especially where foreign policy and “national security” matters are at issue, their biases are frequently blatant and even amusing. This can often be read in their word usage and headline policy which discloses their bias at a glance. For example, their party-line hostility to Hugo Chavez has been steadfast, and even led them to editorialize in favor of the soon to be aborted 2002 coup d’etat, with the editors claiming that “Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chavez, a ruinous demagogue, [who] stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona” (ed., “Hugo Chavez Departs,” April 13, 2002).

 

The editors quickly changed their minds as the coup was reversed and the editors were subjected to sharp criticism for unprincipled behavior, acknowledging that Chavez’s “forced departure last week drew applause at home and in Washington…which we shared, [but] overlooked the undemocratic manner in which he was removed. Forcibly unseating a democratically elected leader, no matter how badly he has performed, is never something to cheer” (ed., “Venezuela’s Political Turbulence,” April 16, 2002). But the editors had cheered it, and had misrepresented the facts: the “ruinous demagogue” didn’t “step down,” his performance had not been “ruinous” as had been, for example, Yeltsin’s in Russia, lauded by the editors, and ending democracy does not terminate a threat to democracy, either in Venezuela in 2002 or Chile on 9/11/73.

 

The incident revealed that the establishment party-line bias of NYT editors runs deeper than their commitment to democracy. More recently, William Neuman’s “Chavez, After Treatment for Cancer, Gets His Bluster Back and Flaunts It” (January 22, 2012) is a simple and easily replicable illustration of the institutionalized presence of an anti-Chavez bias. “Bluster” and “flaunts” are snarl words that the paper wouldn’t use for high-level U.S. or UK politicians, but are standard for Chavez.

 

This kind of language would also not be used to describe Argentinian state terrorists during the years of military rule (1976-1983) or Augusto Pinochet in Chile, at least during the time when they were in power (see my The Real Terror Network). It was amusing to see that the December 11, 2006 NYT obituary for Pinochet by Jonathan Kandell was entitled “Augusto Pinochet, 91, Dictator Who Ruled by Terror in Chile, Dies.” While he was in power, the NYT very rarely referred to him as a “dictator” and I don’t believe they ever said that he “ruled by terror.” But with Pinochet dead and long out of power, the paper can combine “dictator” and “rule by terror” in the very title of an article on him.

 

The official party-line is now hostile to Vladimir Putin and surely not because of any undemocratic or corruption factors, which were perfectly acceptable and even encouraged in the Yeltsin and early Putin years, with the editors describing Yeltsin’s 1996 electoral victory as “A Victory for Russian Democracy” (July 4, 1996), which it certainly wasn’t, but it was a triumph of a man who was taking our orders. No, Putin’s problem is his decline in willingness to take orders and, notably, his resistance to the U.S.-NATO push for clienthood and subservience on a global basis, with Russia, like China, constituting an alternative potential center of power. The result is that the NYT selects as newsworthy, and pushes anything, that will now put Putin in a bad light.

 

Thus, the trial and imprisonment of the “Pussy Riot” trio in 2012 is given intensive, page-one coverage, with a characteristic slant and misinterpretation that meets the political demands for denigration, including outrage that a mere “stunt” attacking Putin results in a jail sentence (David M. Herszenhorn, “Anti-Putin Stunt Earns Punk Band Two Years in Jail,” August 18, 2012). That it was carried out in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, which invited police action and that it was a police action sought by church authorities, rather than political officials, is buried.

 

The subtitle is “Trial of Three Women Put Intense Focus on Free Speech.” But “Pussy Riot” members had carried out other actions elsewhere without jailing as had many others, so was it a challenge to free speech in Russia or was it a stunt that could be mobilized by anti-Putin (and pro-Western) forces as part of a larger propaganda campaign? Does this case tell us anything useful about free speech in Russia?

 

Isn’t it amazing to see it taken up by Amnesty International (AI), Avaaz, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) with such aggressiveness? AI and HRW neglected the important case of Julian Assange and the serious official U.S. campaign against whistleblowers and contributors of ”material aid” (undefined) to terrorists (see Diana Johnstone, “Pussy Riot and Amnesty International: The Decline of Political Protest,” Counterpunch, August 28, 2012). Would the NYTever give such intensive and positive publicity to Americans interrupting church services to make a political point or carrying out illegal acts of protest againstU.S. training-of-state-terrorists pro- grams at the School of Americas or nuclear weapons facilities?

 

The Moscow protests against Putin have not only been featured heavily in theNYT, with photos, but here also you can find language that is reserved for propaganda service. Thus, a rally in Moscow is described as “vast” with a crowd of tens of thousands (the organizers claimed 120,000) and a challenge to Putin’s authority, all within a single headline (Ellen Barry and Michael Schwirtz, “Vast Rally in Moscow Is a Challenge to Putin’s Power,” December 24, 2011). The same Times reporters write that, “After Election Putin Faces Challenges to Legitimacy” (March 5, 2012). Putin received a larger percentage of the votes than did Bush or Obama, but you will not find the NYT mentioning any challenge to an elected U.S. president’s “legitimacy.” Such language is reserved for hostiles.

 

The NYT has long been unfriendly to labor unions and in favor of “reform” here and across the globe, “reform” meaning “flexible” labor markets and more compliant or disappeared unions. This may strike people as implausible given the liberalism of the paper, but it is an establishment newspaper. While it expresses regret that inequality has grown so great and it may oppose crude attacks on labor, still the underlying forces damaging labor and escalating inequality have been openly supported. The Times’s leading liberal for many years, Anthony Lewis, was enthused that Margaret Thatcher had put labor in its place and he and the editors both supported the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement and castigated labor for opposing it.

 

The Times had only modest and scattered coverage of the Reagan-business community attacks on organized labor in the 1980s, even though many of these attacks were in violation of the law, and although they were badly weakening an important civil society institution that protects ordinary citizens both in the workplace and political arena and was arguably essential to a real rather than nominal democracy. Business Week wrote in 1994 that “over the past dozen years…U.S. industry has conducted one of the most successful union wars ever,” assisted by “illegally firing thousands of workers for exercising their right to organize.” But you would hardly know this reading the New York Times (or for that matter its mainstream colleagues).

 

I was still intrigued to see a recent Times article by Liz Alderman with the title “Italy Wrestles With Rewriting Its Stifling Labor Laws” (August 11, 2012), with the word stifling repeated on the continuation page. The article rests almost entirely on the claims by members of one Italian family business of their multiple difficulties: that they won’t hire because they can’t fire workers in a business downturn; that they can’t fire for theft without an airtight case; that taxes to support an “extensive social welfare net” are burdensome; and workers can stay on three years beyond retirement age even if superior and cheaper replacements are available.

 

No contesting or qualifying sources are introduced, so that the benefits of these laws and taxes to workers are not mentioned and evaluated. Only the costs to business and their further macro effects are deemed relevant. “Italy” and theNYT want “reform.”

 

The New York Times is a great newspaper, but arguably this very fact helps make it a great instrument for the engineering of consent to lots of problematic and sometimes very nasty policies and pieces of reality.

Z


Edward S. Herman is a media critic, economist, and author of  numerous books, including The Politics of Genocide (with David Petersen).

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