But where’s the Western condemnation of the Washington Examiner for publishing an article calling for the bombing of the new Crimean Bridge, which opened this week?
It’s been hailed as one of the greatest feats of modern engineering. The dual-purpose span bridge, which connects the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar Krai with the Kerch Peninsula in Crimea, is all of 11.2 miles long, making it the longest such construction in both Russia and Europe. It will now be much easier for people to get to the Crimea from the rest of Russia, and the Crimean economy will greatly benefit.
But not everyone is happy. Step forward one Tom Rogan, a columnist for the neo-con Washington Examiner. Tom calls the construction of the bridge “a formal physical and psychological appropriation of Ukrainian territory.”
And this armchair warrior who holds a BA in ‘War Studies’ from King’s College, London, wants the Ukrainian Air Force to blow it up. He more or less admits that would mean casualties, but says that the length of the bridge would “mitigate the risk” to those traversing it at the time.
In a follow-up piece Rogan stated: “I could have been a little clearer in arguing that this action could (and of course ought to be) carried out with zero casualties.”
Where does one start in responding to such hate-filled incitement, masquerading as “commentary”? The whole premise of the diatribe, that Russia has “appropriated” Ukrainian territory is false, as Crimeans voted in a referendum to return to Russia following an illegal putsch against a democratically-elected government in Kiev in 2014. Without the Western-backed regime change op, Crimea would still be part of Ukraine today. But of course this very important background information is not mentioned in the piece. If you’re peddling Russophobia, then facts are an irritant which simply get in the way.
If the Ukrainians do take Rogan’s advice and bomb the bridge, then a full-scale war will break out with Russia. President Vladimir Putin would have to respond by ordering Russian air strikes on Ukrainian air bases. A full-scale military conflict in Europe might seem a ‘bit of a larf’ for some US neocons, sitting in front of their laptops thousands of miles away, and monitoring with glee the rise in their defense industry stocks. However, it wouldn’t be a joke for those on the front-line. In fact the war could soon go global, especially if, as Rogan advocates, Uncle Sam provides full support to the Ukrainians.
Nuclear war would be a distinct possibility, but that shouldn’t concern us. ‘Don’t worry, the US would win a nuclear war with Russia’, is the verdict of Tom Rogan.
Given the massive costs they would pay, it’s unlikely Petro Poroshenko’s chocolate soldier administration in Kiev would be quite so stupid as to take their lead from the Washington Examiner’s 32-year-old sage. But someone else might. Rogan has put the idea of an attack on the Crimean Bridge into the public domain. To compound this reckless move, the Washington Examiner not only published his piece but tweeted it too, to its 130K followers.
Twitter rules state: “You may not make specific threats of violence, or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people”. Do these rules not apply to those calling for the blowing up of a Russian bridge used by the public?
Internet research reveals that the owner of the Examiner is one Philip Anschutz, who we are told is a “Christian conservative” billionaire. I personally don’t think it’s too Christian to publish articles calling for air strikes on bridges, do you? Or did I miss that section in the New Testament?
It’s clear that we shouldn’t set our moral compass by Anschutz’s paper. Another article on its website this week was entitled, and I kid ye not, ‘No one is as gentle in self-defense as Israel’
And no, it wasn’t a parody. But as bad as the Examiner is, it’s not operating in a vacuum. Rogan’s piece is just the latest in a series of shockingly Russophobic articles in the Western media that would result in immediate career death if the writer targeted other countries, and the nationals of other countries, in the same way.
Think back to the brutal murder of Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, in December 2016. Karlov, who was married, with a son was gunned down as he attended an art exhibition in Ankara. No-one could possibly defend such a cold-blooded action, could they? Sadly, they could. In the New York Daily News, one Gersh Kuntzman penned a piece entitled ‘Assassination of Russian ambassador wasn’t terrorism, but retribution for Russia’s war crimes.’
“Justice has been served,” Kuntzman loftily declared. Again, imagine if an ambassador of a Western country, or Israel, had been murdered in such a fashion. Any journalist declaring “Justice has been served”would never be published by a mainstream outlet again.
To add insult to murder, a photograph of the assassin, brandishing his weapon, with the body of the slain ambassador on the floor, subsequently won the top prize at the World Press Photo event. Imagine the distress that would have caused to Mr Karlov’s family and friends. But hey, Andrey was “only a Russian,” so he’s fair game.
Whenever Russians get killed, it seems they had it coming to them. We’re not allowed to say that terrorist attacks in the West might be caused by Western foreign policy, but when they take place in Russia, they are directly caused by Kremlin policies, and the terrorists’ point of view must be considered.
Think back to the terrorist attack on Moscow’s Domodedovo airport in January 2011. Thirty-seven people were killed in the arrivals hall by a suicide bomber. Imagine if this had happened at JFK, or Heathrow. Would anyone have penned a piece entitled ‘US/UK foreign policy hits home’ in response?
But Adrian Blomfield wrote a piece, published in the Daily Telegraph, entitled ‘Russia’s insurgency hits home,’ which showed a total lack of sympathy for any of the Russians killed.Russia’s “repressive” policies in the Caucasus had caused the terrorism.
The atmosphere of total repression meant that there was no outlet for genuine opposition to the Kremlin-installed regimes of the North Caucasus. For many, particularly youngsters who had seen family members killed, the choice was either to let their resentment fester or to join the rebels,” Blomfield wrote.
Similar sentiments were expressed by UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond when Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) bombers took down a Russian passenger plane full of tourists returning from holiday in Egypt on October 31, 2015. Hammond described it as a “warning shot” to Russia and hoped that the attack would make Russia display a “greater willingness” to engage in talks about Syria in Vienna.
Again, just imagine if terrorists took down a plane full of British tourists and Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, had described it as a “warning shot” to Britain and expressed hopes that it would make Britain display a “greater willingness” to engage in talks about Syria. Of course, Lavrov would never say such a thing. He’s got class and is a civilized man. Philip Hammond showed by his comments that he isn’t.
When Russians die in disasters, the tragedy can also be mocked. One of the worst examples of this was the way the French ‘satirical’ magazine Charlie Hebdo made fun of the deaths of 92 people, including 68 members of the celebrated ‘Red Army’ Alexandrov music and dance ensemble, in a plane crash on Christmas Day 2016.
In one reference to the crash, the oh-so-witty cartoonists showed a jet hurtling downwards with the caption ‘Mauvaise Nouvelle…’Poutine N’Etait Pas Dedans” (Bad News.. Putin wasn’t on board).’ Even more disgusting, another cartoon showed a choir member singing ‘Aaaaaa’ with the caption ‘The repertoire of the Red Army choir is expanding.’ A third image depicted members of the ill-fated ensemble sinking in the sea with the caption ‘The Red Army conquers a new public.’
Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov summed it up perfectly when he said: “If such, I dare say, artistry, is the real manifestation of ‘Western values,’ then those who hold them and support them are doomed – at least to loneliness in the future.” Our cry in response to such depravity must be to declare “Nous ne sommes pas Charlie! Nous sommes tous humains!” (We are not Charlie! We are all human!)
Russophobic neoconservatism mixed with Western liberal superiority, offers nothing to humanity, except inhumanity. I hope that Philip Anschutz reads this article, returns to the Gospels, and then decides to take his newspaper on a very different path -one which advocates building bridges and not blowing them up.