Monday, February 28, 2022

Quote of the Day

Invasions and military force by one country against another are clearly illegal under international law, unless conducted in true self-defense (or authorized by the U.N. Security Council). In coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. mainstream media have correctly, repeatedly, and without equivocation, invoked international law and declared it illegal. As they did when Russia invaded Crimea in 2014.

By contrast, when the U.S. illegally invaded or attacked country after country in recent decades, international law has almost never been invoked by mainstream U.S. media. That was surely the case in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion – unlike in Britain, where major media prominently discussed the reality that invading Iraq would be a crime against international law unless authorized by a U.N. Security Council resolution. On a BBC television special six weeks before the invasion, for example, Tony Blair was cross-examined on that point by anti-war citizens.

In 1989, when the U.S. invaded Panama in perhaps the bloodiest drug bust in history, mainstream U.S. media made a determined effort to ignore international law and its violation – as well as the slaughter of civilians.

Mainstream media in our country today are outraged by imperialism. On Friday night, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell indignantly and repeatedly denounced “Russian imperialism.”

As a lifelong opponent of imperialism, I’m also indignant that a powerful country like Russia is using force to try to impose its will and its own chosen leadership on the Ukrainian people.

But I’ve never heard O’Donnell or anyone at MSNBC denounce U.S. imperialism. Indeed, the existence of something called “U.S. imperialism” is so adamantly denied by mainstream U.S. media that the phrase doesn’t appear in print without scare quotes.

This stubborn unwillingness to recognize U.S. imperialism persists despite the fact that no country (including Russia) has come close to ours in the last 70 years in imposing its will in changing the leadership of foreign governments – often from good to bad (for example, Iran in 1953; Guatemala in 1954; Congo in 1960; Chile, in 1973; Honduras in 2009). Not to mention other U.S.-led regime changes (for example, Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011).

This denial persists despite the fact that our country maintains more than 750 military bases in nearly 80 foreign countries (Russia has about 20 foreign bases in a half-dozen countries); that our military budget dwarfs that of every other country (more than 12 times larger than Russia’s); that the U.S. provides nearly 80 percent of the world’s weapons exports – including weapons sales and military training to 40 of the 50 most oppressive, anti-democratic governments on earth.

Jeff Cohen
Excerpted from “So This Is What It Looks Like
When the Corporate Media Opposes a War

Common Dreams
February 28, 2022

NEXT: Something to Think About
– March 4, 2022

Above: People wait in line to buy food in front of a supermarket with a damaged building in the background in Kyiv on March 1, 2022. Russia will continue the offensive in Ukraine until its “goals are achieved,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday, March 1, almost a week into Moscow’s invasion. (Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images)

Related Off-site Links:
Critics Denounce Racist Double Standard of Western Media’s Ukraine Coverage – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, February 28, 2022).
War: The Ukrainian Conundrum – Marianne Williamson (Transform, February 28, 2022).
Ukraine War Shows Why We Must Stop the Powerful From Making the Rules – Jon Schwarz (The Intercept, February 26, 2022).
Ukraine Doesn’t Need to Match Russia’s Military Might to Defend Against Invasion – George Lakey (Waging Nonviolence, February 25, 2022).
How NATO’s Expansion Helped Drive Putin to Invade Ukraine – Becky Sullivan (NPR News, February 24, 2022).
Putin’s Invasion – Katrina vanden Heuvel (The Nation, February 24, 2022).
Condemning Russia’s Invasion, Voices for Peace Say “War Is Not the Answer” – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, February 24, 2022).

UPDATES: There’s No Justification for Russia’s Aggression, But U.S. Double Standards on Illegal War Are Hard to Stomach – Stephen Zunes (The Progressive via Common Dreams, March 1, 2022).
Russia Warns Kyiv Residents to Leave Homes Ahead of Bombing Blitz – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, March 1, 2022).
Putin’s Claim of Fighting Against Ukraine “Neo-Nazis” Distorts History, Scholars Say – Rachel Treisman (NPR News, March 1, 2022).
Putin’s Criminal Invasion of Ukraine Highlights Some Ugly Truths About U.S. and NATO – Jeremy Scahill (The Intercept, March 7, 2022).
Impunity for War Crimes in Syria Casts a Grim Shadow Over Ukraine – Ben Hubbard (The New York Times, March 15, 2022).
Transcending the Certainties of War – Robert C. Koehler (Common Dreams, March 17, 2022).
Phyllis Bennis: The Best Way to Help Ukraine Is Diplomacy, Not War and Increased MilitarizationDemocracy Now! (March 17, 2022).
One Month Into the Invasion of Ukraine, Russian Forces Keep Up Airstrikes – Virginia Lozano and Marco Storel (NPR News, March 24, 2022).
A Month Into the Russia-Ukraine War: 3.7 Million Refugees, Including 2.5 Million ChildrenNPR News (March 24, 2022).
The Urgent Peace Those Who Support Ukraine Must Demand – Yanis Varoufakis (Common Dreams, May 25, 2022).
Surging Prices Amid Ukraine War Have Pushed 71 Million People Worldwide Into Poverty – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, July 7, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Yanis Varoufakis: Quote of the Day – February 24, 2022
A Prayer for Ukraine
A “Post-Cold War Train Wreck Long In the Making”
The Tenth Anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq
In Search of a “Global Ethic”

Opening image: A Russian armored personnel carrier burns after engaging with the Ukrainian armed forces in Kharkiv on Saturday, February 26. (Photo: Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images)

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