The latest salvo in the ongoing attempt to de-legitimize and demonize Russia-based media has arrived with a directive from the US Justice Department that Sputnik News in the US must register as a foreign agent.
In this regard Sputnik now joins RT America (previously directed to register as a foreign agent) in being stigmatized as peddling propaganda instead of news and news analysis, its journalists and contributors smeared by association, in the context of a wider neo-McCarthyite offensive unleashed with the aim of pushing back against opposition to neoconservative nostrums and influence on Western foreign policy, along with its neoliberal economic counterpart.
What needs to be stressed is that this offensive is being waged not so much against Russian media as against Western dissident voices who dare appear on Russian media. It is an attack on the free speech of US citizens – and also on UK and European citizens given that the same offensive is underway in those parts of the world – on their right to ply their trade as journalists, writers, broadcasters and political analysts.
The reasoning behind this censorious campaign is not, as claimed, because those dissident voices are engaged in peddling falsehoods, lies and propaganda; instead it is because they deign to expose the actual causes of the seemingly unending wars and economic, social, political and refugee crises that are the norm in our time.
The most penetrating truths are often the most simply expressed, a truism given credence by the life and words of US labor leader and anti-war activist, Eugene Debs at the turn of the last century. “War does not come by chance,” the great man said in the context of his unstinting opposition to the First World War. “War is not the result of accident. There is a definite cause for war, especially a modern war.”
In our time the “definite cause for war” is Washington’s determination to maintain the ability of Western global corporations to rampage across the globe unimpeded, Wall Street to suck up the world’s surplus capital, and the continuing supremacy of the US dollar, backed up by a gargantuan military which stands as a monument not to democracy but imperialism.
Those committed to attacking those Western dissidents who appear on and work for Russian media do so on the basis of defending and maintaining this status quo, providing political and ideological support for regime change without end, no matter the scale of the carnage, human suffering and destabilization that ensues in its vapor trails.
By ‘those’ I refer specifically to the murky network of neocon think tanks such as the Henry Jackson Society, the Atlantic Council, and the Council on Foreign Relations, along with the veritable rogues gallery of funders and sponsors supporting them and their works. The aforesaid think tanks are, along with too many others to mention, institutions in which a coterie of expensively-educated, democracy-denying, regime change cranks work day and night producing papers ‘exposing’ Russian media and strategizing against supposed Russian influence and interference in the internal affairs of Western democracies. This they do while ascribing lurid and sensationalist motives to the actions of countries, such as Russia, whose refusal to bow to Washington marks them as the enemy without at the same time as its media, and by implication those who work for and contribute to its media, as the enemy within.
The pressing problem a world interested in the rule of law and stability has to contend with, however, is not alleged Russian interference in the internal affairs of Western democracies; the problem has and continues to be Western interference – or attempted interference – in the internal affairs of Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Libya, and Iraq, etc. This is the true source of the ills the world is grappling with.
When you have a mainstream media outlet in the West such as Foreign Policy magazine carrying an article under the less than cryptic title, ‘It’s Time To Bomb North Korea’, you start to gain an insight into the virulent strain of moral sickness which has those who pen such articles, not forgetting the media that publishes such articles, in its grip. And when you have former NATO staffers such as Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council publishing articles exploring the work of Sputnik contributors, such as myself, with the intention of extrapolating some dark conspiratorial motive for the pattern of said articles, you know you must be doing something right.
As an aside, I would like to extend Mr Nimmo a friendly invitation to come on my Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts, to discuss these matters further. It could be the radio equivalent of Ali-Frazier. I’ll be Ali, gliding round the ring popping him with a righteous jab, exposing his lack of movement, mobility and defense, while he can be Frazier, coming at me in straight lines, bobbing and weaving, trying to land that famous left hook but hitting fresh air.
The claim that Russian media is propaganda is in itself propaganda. The claim that Russia is interfering in ‘our’ democracy is in itself interference in ‘our’ democracy, what with those making this charge arrogating to themselves the right and power to adjudicate over election outcomes and ascribe legitimacy or illegitimacy to them as they deem fit. For such people there are invisible red lines beyond which people tread at their peril.
Dare, for example, to declaim against NATO as a Western military alliance engaged in the projection of imperial power rather than the defender of peace and democracy it claims to be, you are deemed beyond the pale. Describe the 2003 US-led war on Iraq as a crime entirely compatible with Western cultural values, rather than a mistake wholly out of keeping with those values, and you are deemed beyond the pale. Refuse to accept that head-chopping extremists in Syria are ‘moderate rebels’, and refuse to refer to the Syrian government as the Syrian regime, and you soon find yourself regarded as persona non grata.
However, paraphrasing English liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill, better an anti-imperialist pilloried and demonized than a fanatical neocon in clover.
By John Wright
John Wight is a writer and political commentator whose articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Guardian, the Independent, Counterpunch, American Herald Tribune, the Huffington Post, and RT.
He is also a broadcaster whose interviews and analysis can be viewed and listened to on RT, TRT World, the BBC, and Press TV.
John currently presents Hard Facts – a topical weekly radio show at Sputnik.