Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Softly, softly

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  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It’s easy to forget that these were the people who risked their lives to encourage their Parliament to send Yanukovych packing in February. Depicting the whole thing as a neo-Nazi putsch, as Pilger seems to, is just weird.

    It’s not just weird, it’s sad and more than a little pathetic. Am I the only person who remembers when Pilger used to pour scorn on this kind of “don’t let context, nuance or tiresome facts get in the way of my condescending ideological axe-grinding in the comfort of a study in London or Washington”? Well, at least he did back in the day when it was right-wing pundits dismissing those uppity brown leftists as Communist stooges.

    And because it really does need saying, it might be easier to get a handle on exactly what the fuck Putin is up to if he hadn't done such a good job of gutting anything resembling a free press in Russia.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis, in reply to Russell Brown,

    the people who risked their lives to encourage their Parliament to send Yanukovych packing in February

    Thats not how others saw it.
    " On 18 February, the worst clashes of Euromaidan broke out after the parliament did not accede to demands that the Constitution of Ukraine be rolled back to its pre-2004 form, which would lessen presidential power"

    I would have thought if you are violently demonstrating against an elected President AND parliament , thats a putsch in anybodys language.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Its not only Pilger who sees us being dragged into a new Cold War. So does his ideological opposite Peter Hitchens , who writes in the Daily Mail

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2587118/PETER-HITCHENS-Were-dragged-new-Cold-War-puffed-bullfrog-I-don-t-mean-President-Putin.html

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Crawford, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    Attachment

    Thanks for that NYT update Steve, I hadn't seen it.

    What I have seen is a fair bit of discussion surrounding pictures of the type I've attached - essentially pointing out that the "Green Men" non-uniformed Russian-speaking forces were equipped with the type of gear that regulars in the Russian army only dream of.

    Whoever those guys were they were very well funded.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    So does his ideological opposite Peter Hitchens , who writes in the Daily Mail

    Jesus fucking Christ, after reading that I've got to grant Hitchens one thing: He's certainly got the family chutzpah to be accusing anyone else of dangerous ignorance on basic matters of historical fact. But, hey, Peter's got lots of friends in Christian Russia so what's the problems with Russia invading a sovereign nation (guess it's only bad when the evil Amurikans do it, right)? And the " the borders drawn by the victorious West in 1992" don't exist anywhere except Hitchens' imagination. But to be fair, your average Daily Mail columnist wouldn't recognize a fact unless it had really big tits.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    That Hitchens column is batshit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Boko Haram continues to back down.

    Interesting kind of back down if they're getting some of their own prisoners back. And oddly buried near the bottom of the article:

    The Daily Telegraph source said Boko Haram leaders had been upset by the declaration of "war" at the Paris summit, and that this could encourage it to withdraw its offer.

    Also:

    He said that among the prisoners that the group wanted released would be wives and families of Boko Haram fighters, some of whom have been taken into custody by the Nigerian government in order to exert emotional pressure on the fighters.

    Mmhmmm.

    And another point I had been wondering about:

    Details of Boko Haram's offer emerged as officials investigated reports that it was responsible for the kidnapping of up to 10 Chinese workers in neighbouring Cameroon, where the group now also has a presence.

    So China could get dragged in, too? What's that going to look like?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Crawford,

    For some background on Boko Haram here’s a rather readable piece from 2013 http://pando.com/2014/05/17/the-war-nerd-nigerias-inevitable-mess/

    Note:
    The author is somewhat… problematic in that it is “War Nerd” Gary Brecher, alter ego of one of the Pando writers. He’s qualified to comment in the same way all schlubbs are – overeducated and well travelled, wrapped up in rhetoric and self-loathing. At the very least it will be a palate cleanser to remove the taste of that ghastly Hitchens.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Crimea River

    I said from day one that Russia had no real interest in occupying The Ukraine Peninsular, let alone the whole country, it was just so last century.
    The fact that there was division amongst the people of the region over whether to move toward Europe or stay as a de facto part of Russia was going to come to a head at some point and it was in nobody’s interest for it to escalate into anything greater but something had to happen. If Putin had sent in troops officially there would have been far more reason for the West to fear occupation and have to react in some way or appear “weak”. Putins masterstroke was to support those that supported Russian alliance over the Europeanisation of the region by fudging the origin of the troops. Of course everybody with half a brain could see they were Russian troops in everything but uniform but the plausible deniability of Putin’s actions allowed the region some relief from the potential seriousness of the inevitable conflict.
    There will, inevitably, be casualties but I believe major conflict has and will be avoided and I would like to think that, for once, the US has trodden reasonably carefully regardless of the jingoistic ranting we have had from the usual sources, I’m looking at you Fox News and to be honest, I too am a little bewildered about the Pilger article. For such a distinguished journalist to come across as an Alex Jones soundalike left me feeling like the world had finally reached some kind of reason crisis, I know the US and their allies do some batshit crazy things but that was a whole lot of stupid being guessed at there.

    Talking of batshit crazy. The US “War on Terror”, which, by the way, is about as effective as their “War on Drugs” and claiming just as many casualties, has taken a trip down scary street with the cowardly use of drones to murder innocent civilians, innocent until proven guilty means it can be nothing less than murder. Regardless of whether or not they were “Kiwis” John Key’s response to Jeremy Scahill’s observations was nothing short of appalling. His claim that Scahill was wrong in telling us that he knew about the attack is the kind of dismissive remark we have become used to from this obnoxious little man and to claim that he had no prior knowledge of the drone strike is as unbelievable as his ignorance of Kim Dotcom’s existence. If Key did, in fact know then he is as guilty as the man who ordered the strike, it is not a “mere” War Crime as we are not at war, it is murder.
    Roll on September.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It’s easy to forget that these were the people who risked their lives to encourage their Parliament to send Yanukovych packing in February. Depicting the whole thing as a neo-Nazi putsch, as Pilger seems to, is just weird.

    again I'm just repeating my friend's personal experience, he grew up with these people (in the west of the Ukraine) - this was his characterization of the kids he grew up with. He's not a fan of the other guys either, and is happy to be settling here.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I think it may be a traditional (post-1942) Russian thing to conflate any threat from the (geographical) west with fascism, Nazis having been the last group to attempt an invasion of Russia. Certainly the Soviet posture was to a large extent driven by a fear that 1942 might one day be repeated.

    Also, having Russia and Nato spend their time and money probing each others defences with planes and warships isn't such a bad idea. They managed to do it for 40 years without escalating into warfare, and it absorbs their defence budget and prevents colonial adventuring. (If Britain and the US have to maintain tank armies on the Polish border, they won't have any defence budget left to invade anywhere).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    I would have thought if you are violently demonstrating against an elected President AND parliament , thats a putsch in anybodys language.

    Oh, come on.

    Here's the annotated Euromaidan timeline.

    The protests began when the the government performed about-face on the European association agreement (and lied about it).

    There were clearly some violent clashes, but by November 30 there was this:

    On the night of 30 November 2013 at 04:00, armed with batons, stun grenades, and tear gas, Berkut special police units attacked and dispersed all protesters from Maidan Nezalezhnosti while suppressing mobile phone communications.[31][32] The police attacked not only the protesters (most of whom didn't or failed to put up resistance) but also other civilians in the vicinity of Maidan Nezalezhnosti, when the Berkut forces chased unarmed people several hundreds of meters and continued to beat them with batons and feet.[33] Initially, 35 people were injured as a result of the militia raid, including a Reuters cameraman and a photographer.[34][35] Other protesters were detained.[32] Most of protesters were students.[35] At 09:20 Berkut besieged the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery where approximately 50 Euromaidan activists, including the injured, found sanctuary.[32][36] Police spokeswoman Olha Bilyk justified the police raid by saying that protesters were interfering with preparations to decorate the square for the Christmas and New Year's holidays, and accused them of throwing stones and burning logs.[37] Minister of Internal Affairs Vitaliy Zakharchenko later apologized and claimed "riot police abused their power" and promised a thorough investigation.[38] Via state television he added "if there are calls for mass disturbances, then we will react to this harshly".[38]

    There was violence both ways, certainly, but mainly this was a story of peaceful mass protest and crowds of up to a million people.

    Some of the protest leaders paid pretty dearly:

    Later on the 30th, AutoMaidan leader Dmytro Bulatov was found alive after being missing for 8 days, his body dumped in Boryspil to freeze; journalists who did communicate with him showed pictures showing his face scarred and badly beaten, and clothed in blood-soiled attire.[328] His ear was cut off and he had piercings in his hands by nails; which showed signs that he was crucified while being tortured.[329] According to Bulatov, the men who abducted him spoke with Russian accents.[329][330][331]

    There also appeared to be a pattern of state forces targeting journalists.

    And then, of course, there was Yanukovych himself, and the account of a former Georgian leader to The Guardian:

    "He would talk very loudly about how he had corrupted senior officials, in the supreme court and the constitutional court," Saakashvili said during an interview in the Ukrainian capital, where he is meeting with opposition leaders after Yanukovych's downfall. "He didn't care who he was talking to; the guy did not have any idea about morality."

    Saakashvili said Yanukovych was unique among post-Soviet leaders, even the notoriously ruthless and corrupt central Asian dictators. "The others might be cynical but not to the extent of denouncing themselves. I wasn't that surprised he would do these things, but I was surprised how open he was about it."

    He said Yanukovych took great pleasure in talking about his corruption and judicial abuse. "He would tell me at length about criminal cases. He would elaborate on every small detail, and was obsessed and fascinated with the fact that he could really play around with the courts. It's a sign of people who have had problems with the law in the past. It's also a very Soviet mentality; Stalin used to sign the verdict on every serious case."

    Is that really what you're standing up for?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    There is a dirty secret in Europe - the ethnic cleansing of Eastern Europe that occurred during and in the immediate aftermath of WW2 worked. Everyone was in on it. Here are the Ukrainians slaughtering the Poles in 1943-44, for example.

    Where strongman communist rule meant it didn't occur in 1945 in the ex-Yugoslavia the slaughter and the cleansing was merely put off for fifty years. With the break up of the USSR it was inevitable that the interlaced ethnic groups would fall into the sort of violence that characterised pre-WW2 Europe and ex-Yugoslavia.

    The (unpalatable) solution is a mass transfer of populations to newly defined borders by agreement, rather than by massacre.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    ethnic cleansing of Eastern Europe […] worked

    For what exactly? Do you really mean to imply that the only way of achieving a stable nation-state is through achieving racial/cultural purity?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1944 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    For what exactly? Are you really implying that the only way of achieving a stable nation-state is through achieving racial/cultural purity?

    All the empirical evidence of the last 200 years - in Europe at least - points to that. So the answer to your question is yes, that is what I am saying.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Yup, I noticed when I was last in Germany the Sorbs battling the Wends all the time. Or in France, the Bretons trying to slaughter the Normans. Not to mention the continuing Friesland/Holland civil war in the Netherlands.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Yup, I noticed when I was last in Germany the Sorbs battling the Wends all the time

    Not to mention the death toll as the Samoans and Tongans battle it out on the streets of Christchurch

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    the Bretons trying to slaughter the Normans. Not to mention the continuing Friesland/Holland civil war in the Netherlands.

    Nah, just send a drone man, JK's down with that.
    "Yeah, he'll be up on them like a motherfucker"
    (sorry, been watching the Wire again.)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    For what exactly? Are you really implying that the only way of achieving a stable nation-state is through achieving racial/cultural purity?

    All the empirical evidence of the last 200 years – in Europe at least – points to that. So the answer to your question is yes, that is what I am saying.

    I would be very interested to hear how you think that could or should be applied to New Zealand society.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Also, having Russia and Nato spend their time and money probing each others defences with planes and warships isn’t such a bad idea.

    Here in the UK, the government is steaming ahead with their intended replacement for the Trident sub-launched nukes, for no easily-discernable rationale. Possibly the old ones weren't shiny enough. I'm sure the billions spent on being able to pound Russia into slightly more radioactive dust will be a comfort to those civilians on hospital waiting lists, people and prgrammes who rely on subsidies or grants, anyone using the aging intrastructure, and so on.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    And because it really does need saying, it might be easier to get a handle on exactly what the fuck Putin is up to if he hadn't done such a good job of gutting anything resembling a free press in Russia.

    Putin's basically a Tsar by another name, amirite? On the other hand, there are elements within Ukraine that aren't as liberal as they'd want us to believe. Paul Campbell's neighbour had it about right.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Talking of batshit crazy. The US “War on Terror”, which, by the way, is about as effective as their “War on Drugs” and claiming just as many casualties, has taken a trip down scary street with the cowardly use of drones to murder innocent civilians, innocent until proven guilty means it can be nothing less than murder.

    I'm even more antsy that a sizeable chunk of people among us actually support this kind of judge, jury & executioner doctrine. If they took it a step further and actually started calling for it to be applied locally, be very, very afraid.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Nah, just send a drone man, JK’s down with that.

    I call the witness for the Prosecution

    Key disagrees with critics who say drone killings are execution without trial, in which ordinary people are massacred.
    “For the most part drone strikes have been an effective way of prosecuting people that are legitimate targets,” he said

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    If he thinks that’s justice being done,
    he’d better hope it’s never done to him.

    …Won’t the words sit ill upon their tongues
    When they tell us that justice is being done
    And that freedom lives in the barrel of a warm gun…

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1944 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to linger,

    If he thinks that’s justice being done, he’d better hope it’s never done to him.

    He doesn't give a flying rats arse about NZ, as noted in Te Herald.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

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