Harassment

Media bias can be rather annoying. But on occasion, it can also be inadvertently amusing. And so it was that I had a little chuckle at an article in yesterday’s Independent, which described a clash between American and Russian troops in Syria. For this is what the Indy had to say:

A series of videos posted to Twitter on Wednesday appears to show several Russian patrol vehicles harassing US vehicles that had attempted to block their path.

Ho, ho, ho.  The Independent’s reporter Griffin Connolly is obviously so wrapped up in the narrative that the Russians are the bad guys that he can’t see the irony in what he wrote – the Russian harassed the Americans, when the latter ‘attempted to block their path’. Can’t you see the problem here, Griffin, old boy? The Americans started this by trying to block the Russians. So, who really was harassing who here?

Obviously, Connolly doesn’t get it. For a little later on, he adds the following:

The drawdown by roughly half of the US peace-keeping forces in the region created a vacuum that Russia and Turkey have sought to fill, observers have said. This week’s harassment of US vehicles by Russian troops is one of a handful of recent escalations by Moscow to try to strong-arm the US out of the Syria — and the Middle East more broadly.

Note not merely the repetition of the term ‘harassment’ as if it were a given fact, but also the casual reference to the allegedly terrible consequences of a US withdrawal from Syria, justified in turn by the citing of ‘observers’, whose identities are not revealed. As for what these ‘recent escalations’ are, and what evidence there is that Russia is trying ‘to strong  arm the US out of the Syria [sic]’, we are not told. It is taken for granted that Russia is a malign actor that it is to blame for any clashes with the Americans, and that the American presence in Syria is a good thing whose  ending could only bring negative results. As a propaganda piece for US imperialism it does a very good job.

Of course, what it doesn’t tell us is what these American troops are doing in Syria now that ISIS has been largely defeated. (‘We left troops behind only for the oil’, said Donald Trump.) Nor does the article tell us that the American troops are occupying another country’s territory without the consent of that country’s government, unlike the Russians who at least have the pretext of an official invitation. But it does wrap up with this little gem of information:

Earlier this summer, reports emerged that Donald Trump had received a written intelligence briefing containing allegations that Russia was paying bounties to Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan to kill American soldiers. The White House denied Mr Trump had ever been briefed on that intelligence report, even though the New York Times reported it was included in his daily written brief of national security intelligence matters in February. The last time he was asked about it by reporters, the president said he had not brought up the alleged bounty programme in his calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

For whatever reason, Mr Connolly makes no effort to inform readers of the disputed, and decidedly dubious, nature of the claim about Afghanistan. Likewise, he doesn’t bother to explain why the hell he has included this completely irrelevant material about Afghanistan in a story about Russian and American troops playing bumper cars in Syria. I can only imagine it’s because it meant to discredit a) the Russians, and b) Donald Trump. Whatever this article is, straightforward objective news reporting it ain’t.

The funny thing is that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s connections with The Independent’s owner Evgeny Lebedev is often used as a reason to claim that Boris is somehow in the pocket of the Russian state. Obviously, anyone making such a claim has never bothered reading Lebedev’s newspaper.

10 thoughts on “Harassment”

  1. Add ‘Russian’ to the title and you get an amazing sinister headline. Anything will sound like an evil conspiracy.
    “Putin may have links with Russia” – yep, that works!

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  2. I love the commonly-used descriptors:
    RT – Russian state media
    Sputnik – Russian propaganda outlet
    The Independent – a Russian-owned newspaper (which somehow manages to be fervently Russophobic, apart from Dejevsky’s column)
    BBC – British public broadcast

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Serves no purpose. Shouldn’t have happened. In line with Trump’s Syria point man, saying it was his job to make Syria a quagmire for the Russians. Neocon/neolib/flat out anti-Russian leaning foreign policy advocacy shouldn’t be equated with representing America’s best interests.

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  4. The owner of the Independent was recently created a Lord by Boris Johnson. So will firmly become part of the British establishment.

    The newspapers have served their purpose – he is probably sell them soon – they don’t make a profit.

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  5. “For whatever reason, Mr Connolly makes no effort to inform readers of the disputed, and decidedly dubious, nature of the claim about Afghanistan. Likewise, he doesn’t bother to explain why the hell he has included this completely irrelevant material about Afghanistan in a story about Russian and American troops playing bumper cars in Syria. I can only imagine it’s because it meant to discredit a) the Russians, and b) Donald Trump. Whatever this article is, straightforward objective news reporting it ain’t.”

    Ouch! I think Western pundits should be veeeeery careful in keeping promulgating “Russian bounties” story.

    Senior U.S. Intelligence Official Died by Suicide in June

    “One of the nation’s highest-ranking intelligence officials died by suicide at his home in the Washington, D.C., area in June, but the U.S. intelligence community has remained publicly silent about the incident even as the Central Intelligence Agency has conducted a secret investigation of his death.

    Anthony Schinella, 52, the National Intelligence Officer for Military Issues, shot himself on June 14 in the front yard of his Arlington home. A Virginia medical examiner’s report lists Schinella’s cause of death as suicide from a gunshot wound to the head. His wife, who had just married him weeks earlier, told The Intercept that she was in her car in the driveway, trying to get away from Schinella when she witnessed his suicide. At the time of his suicide, Schinella was weeks away from retirement.”

    […]

    “On June 26, the New York Times reported that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, and President Donald Trump quickly faced criticism for having failed to do anything in response to protect American troops. Within days, the National Intelligence Council produced a memo that claimed that the intelligence about the bounties wasn’t conclusive. While the memo was not made public, it was quickly picked up in the press and seemed designed to placate Trump by raising doubts about the original news story about the Russian bounties. The NIC memo appears to have been generated at the urging of John Ratcliffe, the former Republican Texas congressman and Trump supporter who became director of national intelligence in May.

    But at the time that the memo became public through press reports, there was no mention of the fact that the National Intelligence Officer for Military Issues — the one member of the NIC who should have had the most input into the analysis concerning military operations in Afghanistan — had killed himself just days earlier. In fact, Schinella was considered an expert on the Taliban and its military capabilities. Though he was an analyst, Schinella had deployed to four different war zones during his career, his wife said.”

    […]

    “After his death, Schinella’s wife discovered a large collection of bondage and S&M gear that had been hidden in his house, along with 24 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.”

    While we are at it, why not accuse Russia of his death as well? You know, dem Russkis don’t like free-thinking sexual libertines!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “…even as the Central Intelligence Agency has conducted a secret investigation of his death…”

      Fascinating. But at least it wasn’t one of those suicides by multiple gunshots to the head, like the suicide of unfortunate Gary Webb. It wasn’t, was it?

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  6. To be fair to Indy, they have been one of the very few Western MSM who published anti-rebel and mildly pro-gov pieces on Syria, courtesy of Robert Fisk. That alone makes their coverage of the war more balanced than most.

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