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Issue #1700      September 2, 2015

Culture & Life

The global impact of regime change policy

The USA once had possibly the most vibrant newspaper culture of any country in the world. There were hundreds of newspapers across the country, some independent, some part of chains, but of course all of them were privately owned. Capitalist propagandists point to that as a “free press”, but in truth very few of those papers served the interests of the people who bought them. No, before all else they served the interests of their owners and their advertisers.

Orson Welles, in his cinema masterpiece Citizen Kane, presented a bitingly savage satire on the US “free press”.
Orson Welles, in his cinema masterpiece Citizen Kane, presented a bitingly savage satire on the US “free press”.

And also, the more important ones were almost all part of chains, owned by press barons like Hearst or McCormick, the forerunners of Rupert Murdoch. Orson Welles, in his cinema masterpiece Citizen Kane, presented a bitingly savage satire on the US “free press” with a masterly amalgam in Kane of real life traits of both Hearst and McCormick.

Even though the US media’s flaws were (and still are) many and glaring, American journalists were at least raised in a tradition that emphasised the best principles of good reporting: get it fast, gets it first and get it right. However, those same journalists very quickly discovered that those principles were honoured more in the breach than the observance, that their papers were interested above all else in boosting circulation (and hence advertising revenue) and stories that conflicted with that aim would soon bite the dust.

They might find it frustrating, but they very quickly became aware of what sort of stories suited – and what sort did not suit – the editorial line of the newspaper they worked for, and they cut their cloth (and their stories) accordingly.

Today there are many fewer newspapers, more tabloids (both print and television) and less opportunities for serious journalism. Nevertheless, the tradition persists and finds an outlet – for some at least – via the Internet.

For instance, in August 2015, Information Clearing House ran a lengthy article from Consortiumnews by US investigative reporter Robert Parry on the aggressive “regime change” strategy that the American neocons have pursued since at least the 1980s and which has left “bloody chaos” in its wake all over the world. The cumulative impact, says Parry, includes “Mideast refugees flooding Europe and overuse of sanctions, and is now contributing to a global economic crisis”.

Parry should know: he broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. He is the author of a trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives. His latest book is America’s Stolen Narrative, (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

In his August article, The Case for Pragmatism, he writes: “In tracing these patterns [of ‘limited military interventions’], you can go back in time to such misguided fiascos as the CIA’s huge covert operation in Afghanistan in the 1980s (which gave rise to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda). However, for argument’s sake, let’s start with the neocon success in promoting President George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. Not only did that war divert more than $1 trillion in US taxpayers’ money from productive uses into destructive ones, but it began a massive spread of chaos across the Middle East.

“Add in President Barack Obama’s 2011 ‘humanitarian’ interventions in Libya (via Western bombing operations to topple Muammar Gaddafi’s regime) and in Syria (via covert support for rebels and sanctions against President Assad’s government) – and you have two more Mad Max scenarios in two once relatively prosperous Arab states.

“These human catastrophes have sent waves of refugees crashing into other Mideast countries and into Europe where the European Union was already stumbling economically, still trying to recover from Wall Street’s 2007-08 financial crisis. After tasting the bitter medicine of austerity for years, Europeans now find their fairly generous welfare systems stretched to the breaking point by refugees seeking asylum. …

“Toss into this volatile mix of a Europe seemingly close to explosion the Obama administration’s neocon/liberal interventionist policies toward Ukraine, where neocon holdover Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland helped orchestrate a 2014 coup to remove democratically elected President Yanukovych after he was demonised in the US mainstream media as corrupt.

“Citing ‘democracy promotion’ and ‘anti-corruption’, the Obama administration backed the creation of a coup regime that has relied on neo-Nazi and Islamist militias to serve as its tip of the spear against ethnic Russian Ukrainians who have resisted the ouster of Yanukovych. Thousands – mostly eastern Ukrainians – have died. Of course, all this was explained to the American people as a simple case of ‘Russian aggression’.

“After the coup, when the ethnic Russians of Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, that became a ‘Russian invasion’, justifying harsh economic sanctions against Moscow, with the Obama administration strong-arming the Europeans to forgo their profitable trade relations with Russia to punish the Russian economy. But that also added to the pressure on the European economy.

“As this madness has escalated, the neocons and their liberal-hawk pals now envision destabilising the Putin government in nuclear-armed Russia.

“The hard truth”, says Parry, “is that there is a limit to the amount of neocon-induced trouble that the planet can absorb without major dislocations of the international economic system – and we may be testing that limit now. The problem is that America’s neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks continue to put their ideological priorities ahead of what’s good for the average person on earth.”

Parry correctly points to the ties between neocon think tanks and “self-interested sectors, such as the Military-Industrial Complex”, but fails to mention that the “horrors” that US intervention is supposedly going to fix is usually invented by the US government’s disinformation machine (and even when it isn’t it is certainly aggravated by US sanctions and other “non-military options”).

In fact, notes Parry, “the chaos that these neocons and liberal interventionists inflict on the world … typically ends up creating conditions of far greater horror than the meddling was [supposedly] meant to stop.”

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