Warm Southern Breeze

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All The News That Fits: What you’re not being told about Russia’s Ukraine invasion

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, March 10, 2022

New York Times front page 09 March 2022

“The Gray Lady,” aka The New York Times, has for years had a slogan which reads “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” Created in 1897 by Adolph S. Ochs (1858-1935), The New York Times owner who first owned the Chattanooga Times (now Chattanooga Times Free Press), the motto was meant to express the idea that the paper’s intention is to write the news impartially, and still appears on the paper’s masthead to this day.

In the era of Ochs’ ownership of the NYT, newspapers were openly partisan, and through his slogan, sought to instill a sense of confidence in the reading audience, and by his careful management, the paper increased its readership from 9,000 as a struggling publication when he purchased it in 1896, to 780,000 by 1921, and had a staff of 1885. The 1922 Encyclopædia Britannica wrote of the paper that, “By its fairness in the presentation of news, editorial moderation and ample foreign service, it secured a high place in American journalism, becoming widely read and influential throughout the country.”

Today, with the advent of instant global electronic communications, and changes in various laws mostly regulatory of ownership, the journalism landscape has changed drastically, some say for the better, while yet others demur. But regardless one’s opinion on such matters, suffice it to say that the paper’s detractors have slightly varied the motto thusly:

All the News that Fits.

One thing’s for certain, amid the democratization of news, and a broadened, liberalized monetary business landscape, and the cheapening of communications to be as a mere merchandised product, the profit motive remains strong for all journalists and news outlets, traditional, or modern. And effectively, what that means is sponsorship, and mentioning the sponsor’s name, at the least, and at the most, promoting their products, over other brands. So in other words, by virtue of that fact, it could hardly be considered “non-partisan,” partisanship being seen or perceived as partiality, instead of independence. And there’s certainly no limit to partisanship online, in print, or broadcast.

Such commodification can be seen in some newspapers by the presence of advertising on the FRONT PAGE, which historically, had NEVER been done… until now. It’s purely a profit motive, first for the paper, which can, and does, sell that space for MUCH, MUCH MORE than similarly-sized space inside the paper, and secondly, for the advertiser, who gets Front-and-Center “in your face” attention from readers.

But as noted in the Tweet above, what constitutes journalistic independence varies from nation-to-nation, and organization-to-organization, though underlying it all, hopefully, there resides adherence to a uniform standard of high ethical, and professional, practice. Effectively, what that means is that The New York Times is vastly different from The National Enquirer, London’s Daily Mail, or The Sydney Morning Herald of Australia.

American reporting on the still-ongoing matter of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has, and continues to consist primarily of, prognosticating about what Russia will do, what Russia has done, what Russia could do, what Russia ought to do, and similarly opining on the psychological reasons/justifications for why Putin wants Ukraine. In stark contrast, “foreign” news agencies have focused much more on the Ukrainian people, what they’re doing, how they’re surviving, how their lives have changed, and the accomplishments of the Ukrainian military against the Russian invaders.

Such a reversal position and role is astounding, considering United States’ long history with Russia, even before it fell to Communism to become a Soviet state, and the subsequent failure of communism and the nation’s transformation into a criminal oligarchy by its corrupted government officials.

Arguably, the nation has long been a criminal state, with the presence of an elite criminal sect known as “vory” which has roots dating back to the time of the Tsars, so writes Dr. Mark Galeotti, PhD, a political scientist, lecturer, researcher, senior non-resident fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague — a public research institution producing basic and applied scientific research in the field of international relations — whose doctorate thesis in Economics from the globally-respected London School of Economics was “The impact of the Afghan War on Soviet and Russian politics and society, 1979-1991.” And finally, he is also a subject matter expert in modern Russia, especially its security politics, intelligence services, and criminality, who wrote “The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia,” published by Yale University Press, 2018.

To understand one’s enemy, it’s necessary to know their history, and Dr. Galeotti goes to great lengths to detail the Russian vory and the thread of their influence that runs throughout hundreds of years dating to c.1460.

Book reviewer Dr. Louise Shelley, PhD (a brief biography follows the excerpt), wrote in her article “A Tangled Web: Organized Crime and Oligarchy in Putin’s Russia” thatThe Vory accurately explains that post-Soviet organized crime was not based on the more common forms of transnational crime, but rather was much more a product of the privatization of former state property.”

“The Russian criminal world, and the vory who presided over it, endured despite concerted efforts by the authoritarian tsarist state to wipe out the bandits. With these failures, professional criminals became entrenched in Russian life and society. As Galeotti points out, Joseph Stalin worked closely with professional criminals, both as a bank robber and a pirate, in the Caucasus region in the early 20th century — the final years of the Russian Empire. But Stalin was careful to cover up this past by physically eliminating his previous criminal associates. Notwithstanding the execution of Stalin’s fellow bandits, Russia’s professional criminals largely survived the Soviet revolution. Subsequently, however, many were rounded up and placed in labor camps, where many of them preyed on the political prisoners with whom they were often confined. Galeotti draws on the memoirs of survivors of long-term incarcerations, such as Varlam Shalamov, a great raconteur of the labor camp environment, who wrote after his release, “the criminals were not human.”

“During the Soviet era, true vory refused to cooperate with the state, ensuring that their children did not attend school or serve in the military. But as Galeotti explains, the political calculus of the criminal world changed in the final days of the Soviet Union, setting organized criminals on a trajectory that would lead them to assume political influence and wealth at the end of the Soviet period and in the tumultuous transitional period that followed. The Vory provides a fine framework to understand the strong links between crime and politics that characterized the end of the Soviet era.”

About Dr. Louise Shelley, PhD: She “is the Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Endowed Chair and a University Professor at George Mason University. She is in the Schar School of Policy and Government and directs the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) that she founded. She is a leading expert on the relationship among terrorism, organized crime and corruption as well as human trafficking, transnational crime and terrorism with a particular focus on the former Soviet Union. She also specializes in illicit financial flows and money laundering. She was an inaugural Andrew Carnegie Fellow. Her newest book written while on the Carnegie Corporation and Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship, Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy is Threatening our Future, on illicit trade, the new technology and sustainability was published with Princeton University Press in November 2018.

“Dr. Shelley received her undergraduate degree cum laude from Cornell University in Penology and Russian literature. She holds an M.A. in Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania. She studied at the Law Faculty of Moscow State University on IREX and Fulbright Fellowships and holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. She held a Fulbright and researched and taught on crime issues in Mexico. She has also taught on transnational crime in Italy. She is the recipient of the Guggenheim, NEH, IREX, Kennan Institute, and Fulbright Fellowships and received a MacArthur Grant to establish the Russian Organized Crime Study Centers and recently completed a MacArthur grant studying non-state actors and nuclear proliferation. In 1992, she received the Scholar-Teacher prize of American University, the top academic award of the university.”

That very same behavior played out in 1462, when, as World History Volume wrote in “Russia Under the Tsars 1462-1796:

“IN THE LAST PART of the fifteenth century, the monks and courtiers of Moscow began to say that Moscow was destined to become the “Third Rome.” The first Rome, they said had been great as the centre of Christianity; but when the Romans had recognized the pope, Rome had been punished by destruction. The second Rome had been Constantinople, the centre of the Orthodox Church; but Constantinople, too, had briefly recognized the pope, and it, too, had fallen. Now Moscow, where the Orthodox faith still remained pure, was to become the Third Rome — the great centre of the Christian world. It would remain so, “for two Romes have fallen, the third stands and a fourth will not be.”

“Once Moscow had been small and unimportant, but the dukes of Moscow had been bold and ambitious, seizing every opportunity to make Moscow stronger. Sometimes they acted more like thieves than princes. Grand Duke Daniel once invited another prince to dinner, pretending friendship. When the guest arrived, Daniel threw him into prison and seized his lands. Daniel’s son, Ivan, who was called Ivan Moneybags, made Moscow the home of the Metropolitan, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Ivan Moneybags also became the tax collector for the Tatar overlords and he kept a good part of the taxes, for himself. Other dukes stole or bought or conquered new lands to make Moscow greater.

“So, when Ivan III became Grand Duke in 1462, he inherited one of the most powerful kingdoms of Russia. Ivan acted very much as though he believed the story of the Third Rome. He married Sophia, niece of the last Byzantine emperor. He put the two-headed eagle of Rome on his own state seal. He sometimes even called himself tsar, which was the Russian way of saying “Caesar,” and he set himself up as defender of the Orthodox faith.

“Ivan won new lands to go with his new titles. He conquered Novgorod and other territories, until he made all but one of the independent Russian kingdoms bow to his rule. Soon Ivan was able to call himself “by the Grace of God, Sovereign of All the Russias, and grand prince of Vladimir and of Moscow and of Novgorod and of Pskov and of Tver and of Yugria and of Viatka and of Perm and of Bolgary and of others.”

“According to tradition, Ivan shared his power with the great nobles, the boyars. The boyars acknowledged him as their ruler and gave him men for his armies; in return, he granted them their lands and took their advice. Ivan was careful to keep the boyars from getting too much power. When he conquered new lands, he gave large estates to his own officers, whom he could trust to remain loyal. Often he forced conquered princes to leave their own lands and come to Moscow. There he made them useful as officials, courtiers and at the same time he made sure that they were not plotting against him.

“From 1505 until 1533 Ivan’s son, Vasily III, ruled Moscow. Vasily took the old Russian land of Smolensk from Lithuania and added Ryazan to Moscow’s possessions. Like his father, he cooperated with the boyars, but managed to keep them under control. Then, in 1533, when Vasily died, his three-year-old son Ivan IV became grand duke and at last the boyars had their chance to really rule over the Russian lands. They began to fight among themselves for power and all the little duke could do was watch.”

History has certainly repeated itself, seemingly ad infinitum, in Russian governance.

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