Quid est veritas? What is the truth? A question that has echoed down the centuries has increased relevance as we live through the greatest propaganda assault of all time.
Western “news” media have mounted such a constant barrage of anti-Russian propaganda that it is almost impossible to hold an alternative view. Sports, the arts, education have all been co-opted into US imperialism’s struggle to maintain its hegemony. To ensure total adherence to the US world view, RT (formerly Russia Today), the Russian media channel, has been banned from western airwaves. US imperialism has declared Putin a war criminal and stated that the war is the result of Russian expansionism.
There is no room in this narrative to look at the eastward expansion of NATO, the coup in Ukraine in 2014, or the attacks on the Donbass. This is not to support or justify the Russian military action but to acknowledge that the causes of the conflict have much to do with attempts by the United States to maintain its position as the leading world power against China and regional powers such as Russia.
In the Irish media, from the smallest newspaper to RTE, the US position has been repeated ad nauseam. RTE went so far as to use footage provided by the Nazi Azov Regiment (formerly Azov Battalion) in its news bulletins. Most of the content could have come straight from US and NATO press offices (and in truth it probably did). The air waves are full of “experts” with links to NATO and the arms industry.
The Irish media reflect the world view of the Irish ruling class, which is one of dependence and subservience to British, US and EU imperialism and automatic support for all imperialist wars. The leading media personalities are united in their opposition to a non-aligned Ireland, which they try to portray as backward-looking and insular. They mainly support US hegemony, though some may look for a “nicer” imperialism; but all are agreed that the EU and NATO are the good guys.
But how is the “truth” they peddle manufactured? In the Sunday Business Post on 27 February, Lucinda Creighton mentioned one of these “truth-makers.” She stated that she was an adviser to the Counter Extremism Project, an American NGO that says it wants to build “a more moderate and secure society by educating the public, policymakers, the private sector, and civil society actors about the threat of extremism.”*
Dealing with Ukraine, Creighton said that thousands of right-wing fighters went to Donbass to fight against Ukraine. Hardly likely when one considers the left-wing leadership in the two People’s Republics that make up the Donbass. Nowhere in her article was there any mention of the Azov Regiment or the celebration of the memory of the Nazi collaborator Stefan Bandera.
The BBC, hardly a radical organisation, broadcast an item on the Azov Regiment in 2018 in its current-affairs programme “Newsnight.” In 2019 the Guardian also covered it. In 2016 a report from the Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner accused the unit of raping and torturing Donbass detainees. In 2015 the Simon Wiesenthal Centre condemned the decision to name Kiev streets after Nazi collaborators. Plenty of evidence for those who were looking for it.
Why did the Counter Extremism Project not notice the Azov Regiment and the hero worship of Bandera and other Nazi collaborators? In the world view of the CEP, an extremist is someone who is opposed to the US domination of the world.
Following the defeat of Nazi Germany, Bandera and his supporters collaborated with US and British intelligence to sustain a fascist military campaign against the Soviet Union. The Azov Regiment also supports, and is supported by, the US and other NATO powers. Therefore the CEP would not see them as extremist.
The CEP web site has a section dedicated to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Surprise, surprise! Only Palestinian resistance organisations are deemed to be extremists. No Israeli political groups, no settler organisations, no mention of Beitar Jerusalem, a football club whose supporters are notorious for their right-wing, racist anti-Arab views.
The Counter Extremism Project was formed in 2014 by former senior US government officials, including a former Homeland Security adviser, Francis Townsend, former Senator Joseph Lieberman, and a former US ambassador to the United Nations, Mark Wallace. In 2017 the US Department of Homeland Security gave it a grant of $298,760.
Is it an independent source of information? Imagine if it had been set up by former Russian government officials and was financed by the Russian state. It would now be viewed as an unreliable source, and it would be banned throughout the west as an arm of the Russian government.
CEP may be an NGO, but it is not an independent source. It was created, is staffed and is financed by the US government, and it pursues US interests globally.
What is truth? It seems it is whatever US imperialism deems it to be.