With four weeks to go until the start of Russia’s Zapad (“West”) war games in Belarus, Western media are already reporting alarm bells that the exercise is a cover for an invasion into NATO countries.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the United States is mobilizing a giant military force within days off the Korea Peninsula that could very well ignite World War III. Strangely enough, or perhaps not, the Western media report no concern about that much more ominous development.
The selective hysteria and double think over Russia-Belarusian military defense exercises, which occur every four years, makes a good case that those maneuvers should be renamed ‘Zapped’ – such is the brain-dead condition of NATO governments’ thinking and the Western media reporting.
Russia and Belarus claim that the total number of troops involved are around 13,000. The US and other NATO members counter-claim that the numbers are in the 100,000 order.
Russia’s envoy to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, has submitted an inventory of military forces backing up the Russian number, while the country’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said accusations that the war exercises are anything more sinister than simply defensive preparations are “nonsense”.
Those assurances haven’t stopped the Western media from hyping up the forthcoming Zapad drill as a foreboding event. In order to do so, the double think has inevitably gone into overdrive.
The New York Times reports: “Russia’s military drills near NATO border raise fears of aggression”. It goes on to call the event “an exercise in intimidation” carried out by “an increasingly assertive Russia”.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis has called the forthcoming Russian exercises “destabilizing”.
So, let’s get this straight: countless NATO exercises and unprecedented force build-up around Russia’s borders are not destabilizing? Seems like Mattis is saying that to merely have an army in one’s own country is no longer acceptable. ‘How dare you carry out provocative defensive measures,’ seems to be his dubious logic.
What the NY Times fails to explicitly mention is that the Zapad drills are occurring within Russian or Belarusian territory and that the “NATO border” has come to exist only because of years of provocative eastward expansion by the US military alliance towards Russia. In contravention of the Russia-NATO Founding Agreement following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the supposed end of the Cold War.
Elsewhere, The Economist reports: “Russia’s biggest war games in Europe since the Cold War alarms NATO”. It adds: “Some fear that Zapad 2017 could be a cover for skullduggery.”
Omitted in all the fear-mongering reportage is that last year NATO actually mounted the biggest war games since the end of the Cold War when it conducted the Anaconda exercises in Poland and the Baltic states. Those drills involved over 30,000 troops and the participation of 24 of the then 27 NATO member states (NATO has since gained another member with Montenegro joining this year).
A Guardian report on the Anaconda maneuvers at the time noted, in a rather nonchalant tone, how it was the first time German tanks crossed Poland since the Nazi invasion of Russia in Operation Barbarossa in 1941.
Also omitted in general Western media coverage is that as the NATO alliance membership has expanded over the years so too have the number of its war games. Last year, for instance, in addition to the giant Anaconda maneuvers there were several other exercises: Summer Shield, Iron Wolf, Saber Strike and BALTOPS.
Other Western media reports claim that the Russian Zapad games are a harbinger of invasion by stealth, pointing to the case of Georgia and the Southern Caucasus. This comparison by the Western media is a betrayal of what psychologists call “guilt projection”.
For it was the US-backed Georgia which launched a war nine years ago this month on Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The US-backed Operation Clear Field, which the Pentagon had invested $2 billion in, proved to be a disaster when Russian forces quickly repelled invading Georgian military.
For Western media and NATO figures to now claim that Russia is readying to repeat a “Georgia-style invasion” is beyond double think. It is an outrageous distortion of history.
A helpful perspective on how zapped Western media have become is that next week the US will conduct huge military maneuvers on the Korean Peninsula with its South Korean and Japanese allies. Those exercises will involve up to 75,000 troops, as well as nuclear-capable warships, aerial bombers and amphibious forces.
Admittedly, the US war games in Korea occur every year. Their scheduling is not unusual. Albeit why such maneuvers have become “acceptable” in the West has to do with the normalizing function of the Western media.
Nevertheless, the massive mobilization is a continual source of threat perceived by Communist North Korea, which views it as a preparation for invasion. Given that the US never signed a peace treaty with North Korea following the Korean War (1950-53), the fears in Pyongyang are reasonable enough.
Especially in the light of bellicose statements made in recent days by US President Donald Trump and his Pentagon chief James Mattis, in which they have threatened to destroy North Korea if the latter should continue with missile tests. Trump has warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that his country will be met with “fire and fury the like of which the world has never seen before”.
The region, and the world for that matter, is being placed on a hair-trigger for catastrophic war – a war that most likely would escalate into a nuclear conflagration involving the deaths of millions of people.
Yet, the US is bullishly proceeding to conduct its war games in Korea – despite calls by both Russia and China for Washington to freeze the military operations in order to give diplomacy a chance at resolving the crisis.
Where are the urgent concerns about those US war games in the Western media? Precisely, there are none.
Instead, the Western media are preoccupied with anxieties over Russian military exercises within its own territory and that of a neighboring ally.
The brain-dead double think and double standards of Western media show – more than ever – that these news organs have nothing to do with reporting on or analyzing objective reality.
For anyone doubting the purpose and function of these information services, they can be clearly seen as nothing other than propaganda ministries. Their function is to conceal, obfuscate, normalize the abnormal, defend the indefensible, justify the unjustifiable.
Perhaps the consummate absurdity betraying their propaganda purpose is the way Western media are totally ignoring and normalizing the reckless war maneuvers by the US in South Korea. That provocation could set off World War III with nuclear weapons, yet Western media say little to nothing about this abominable destabilizing danger.
No. Such ‘news’ media are far too busy fantasizing over a Russian invasion of Europe with troops that are stationed within Russia’s own territory, while being surrounded by NATO forces from more than 20 nations.
Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.
The 4th Media
This article was first published by RT