Saturday, April 5, 2008

Murdoch effects on WSJ filter in

The world of media bemoaned the Murdoch takeover of prestigious US paper, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

To alleviate concerns that the WSJ would be compromised to a neocon mouthpiece (as all of News Corp has become), Murdoch vowed at the time that he would not tamper with the paper's editorial spill.

However, my analysis of an excerpt of a WSJ editorial on the NATO summit in Bucharest will demonstrate that the WSJ hasn't been immune from the right-wing flu that leeches onto all of Murdoch's pets.

For the full article click on the link below:

The Battle of Bucharest

By Matthew Kaminski

April 4, 2008

European security is supposed to be last century's problem. Tell that to Ukraine and Georgia, which had their bids to join the West effectively vetoed by Russia at yesterday's unusually dramatic summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In the halls of Ceausescu's Palace of the People, American idealism squared off against a belligerent Kremlin and its chief European proxy, Germany. The U.S. lost this battle. The clear victor in Bucharest was Russia's Vladimir Putin, who wasn't even in town.

Washington won't be able to sugarcoat the setback to the America-led project of reunifying Europe. This was President Bush's last NATO summit, and his inability to persuade Germany into welcoming Ukraine and Georgia tarnishes his one indubitably positive legacy in Europe. In the summer of 2001, before the "Bush Doctrine" was born from the embers of 9/11, the president pledged to make the spread of freedom across the Continent a priority. Soon after, he welcomed seven former Soviet satellites into NATO, including Romania. Washington then backed the democratic "color" revolutionaries in Ukraine and Georgia...

Mr. Putin hates virtually every U.S. strategic initiative in Europe from the independence of Kosovo to installing missile defenses. But Russia has no direct interests in Kosovo and knows limited missile defenses pose no threat. MAP, on the other hand, matters. Georgia is a pro-American thorn in Russia's side that the Kremlin would like to pull out, by force if need be. As the largest ex-Soviet republic bar Russia, Ukraine is a coveted prize. Russia is desperate to keep these states in its sphere of influence. Yesterday Germany played the enabler...

Germany is the new France. As the current leader in Paris, Nicolas Sarkozy, buries the old Gaullist skepticism toward NATO, Berlin plays the role of troublesome ally. Gerhard Schröder is on Gazprom's payroll these days, but Schröderism lives on. His successor, Ms. Merkel, leads an unwieldy left-right coalition government, and according to a senior official close to her, didn't dare pick a fight on foreign policy, with elections on the horizon next year.

[Antoun] The opening two paragraphs already create a spin to a rather important piece of news. Ukraine and Georgia, both ex-Soviet republics, are braving internal problems and tension with Russia to improve their ties with the West.

The Russian perspective
Russia, in an expected response, has become increasingly apprehensive towards the EU and the US as the latter seek to encroach on - what Moscow considers - its sphere of influence. Moscow is feeling threatened, and why wouldn't it? Post-Berlin Wall, NATO and the EU have expanded to the frontier of Russia; actively supported the pro-Western revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine; and plied Kosovo from another Russian ally, Serbia. Russia feels the West has continued a belligerent policy towards Moscow, hence its toughened stance.

Yet the article completely discards the Russian perspective, and instead, promotes the neocon perspective that Bush is trying to bring freedom and democracy to the world (whose lie has already been dispelled by American actions in the MidEast), and big, bad Russia intends only to create chaos. Kaminski continues his tirade by lambasting Germany as a "Russian proxy", alleging that Berlin exists solely to do Russia's bidding. Ironically, Kaminski absolved newfound Bush ally, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, from the lashing, despite Sarkozy's equal vigorous opposition to offer membership talks to Ukraine and Georgia.

The European perspective
These two European powers see no interest in sparking a tense rift with Russia over two states that won't provide NATO with any increased security. Instead, offering membership to Ukraine and Georgia would only increase security risks for NATO as Russia's patience wears exceptionally thin. Bush has continued a post-Cold War American policy of encircling Moscow by scraping away at its former republics, particularly in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

Its Western European allies also had an interest to expand the EU's boundaries in order to create an Eastern European buffer between Western Europe and Russia. But that buffer has its limits. Creating a separating bridge between Western Europe and Russia was essential to European security.

The eastern expansion was a defensive move as an assurance that Russia will not spread its claws in Europe again. That does not solicit a change in policy from a defensive expansion to keep Russia out, to an aggressive policy to spread Western claws in Russia's enclave, a line which the Americans appear to be taking.

The Europeans do not see the positives in becoming the giant bear they sought to defeat. A line needs to be drawn to ensure an enduring stability between Russia and Europe, and that line - for Paris and Berlin - is Ukraine and Georgia.

The article lacks substance, analysis and wisdom. It has turned a summit involving a wide range of issues and perspectives into a single issue and perspective. Kaminski shelved European and Russian interests, and placed Bush's policies (not necessarily in the American interest) at the forefront, all in the name of the outdated slogan of "freedom and democracy". The world is aware of the reality of Bush's policies. The world is aware that "freedom and democracy" are the last desires on Bush's mind.

Yet, Kaminski continues to patronise and undermine the intellectual audience of WSJ by regurgitating old slogans, and writing a piece suitable for an audience of a British tabloid. No coincidence, Murdoch has had his claws in the British tabloids for quite some time. The fears that WSJ would mirror the single-minded Murdoch media have now become a reality.

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