Sunday, August 10, 2008

Russian aggression?

I want to show you a prime example of deliberately misleading news reporting that I read this morning on the CBC.

Russia launches air strikes in Georgia

As fighting raged for a second day Saturday in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Russian jets bombed the town of Gori, near the breakaway province of South Ossetia. An apartment building and military base were among the targets hit in Russia's attempt to force back Georgian troops seeking control over the separatist enclave on its southern border. Freelance reporter Giorgi Lomsadze told CBC News that neighbours told him five people who were living in the building are killed. Warplanes also bombed the Black Sea port city of Poti, which has a sizable oil shipment facility, the Georgian Interior Ministry said.


So far nothing seems out of order. Russia orders air strikes in two locations: the town of Gori and the port city of Poti, both in Georgia. This is where the article gets very interesting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that 1,500 people have been killed, with the death toll rising Saturday. The figure could not be independently confirmed, but witnesses who fled the violence estimated that hundreds of civilians have died. They said most of South Ossetia's provincial capital, Tskhinvali, was in ruins, with bodies lying everywhere.

So what just happened? To someone with no knowledge of the situation this seems to be saying that Russia is admitting to killing 1,500 people with its air strikes, and that the bodies lying everywhere in South Ossetia are even the Russians' doing.

The article never points out that those 1,500 dead (and I've seen reports of 2,000) happened at the hands of Georgian troops. These are civilians being slaughtered by Georgia, but we're supposed to see Russia as the evil-doers here.

Which is not to say that Russia has good intentions in getting involved with defending South Ossetia, but this article is just another example of US-backed military violence being overlooked by the media in order to demonize a rival of "the West". Cold War logic just doesn't work here.

Read this if you want a better run-down of the situation.

6 comments:

Camp Tiger Claw said...

There is never an excuse for either ignorant or intentionally misleading news reporting. Clearly the issue of the Georgian governments handling of people in the disputed area, both now and in the past.

That being said, with some of the stuff that's happened in Chechnya perpetrated by pro-Moscow elements, it's hard to picture Russia as some sort of normalizing peace keeping force when this shakes out.

Camp Tiger Claw said...

Clearly the issue of the Georgian governments handling of people in the disputed area, both now and in the past is the most pressing.

Debates only work when I include all my sentences.

Matthew said...

We're either going to see Russia or NATO playing the role of "peacekeeper." After seeing NATO's handiwork over the past ten years, Putin's mafia is certainly preferable.

I just saw that Georgia has declared a ceasefire in Ossetia. I can't believe Saakashvili was so stupid as to believe that this could have turned out any differently. But maybe this is what he had in mind all along: get his NATO friends, along with the western media, riled up over Russia while Israel supplies Georgia with arms and the U.S. transports their troops back to Georgia from Iraq.

Matthew said...

A major difference between Chechnya and this situation is that the South Ossetians and the Abkhazians never wanted to be a part of Georgia, and they seem to be quite willing to accept at least a temporary annexation by Russia.

Camp Tiger Claw said...

get his NATO friends, along with the western media, riled up over Russia while Israel supplies Georgia with arms and the U.S. transports their troops back to Georgia from Iraq.

He's just redecorating!

Matthew said...

Kind of like that Mythbusters episode where they tried to paint a room by putting dynamite in a bucket of paint.