The coverage of the Russian issue reminds me very much of 1999, when every evening during prime-time news programmes showed endless streams of refugees, claiming that they were fleeing Kosovo out of fear of persecution and death. This was contrary to completely different reports from the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe). Shortly before the start of NATO’s devastating war of aggression against the People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, which violated international law, the OSCE said: “All is calm. No refugee movements on the border with Kosovo”.
Our politicians at the time, Foreign Minister Josef (Joschka) Fischer and Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping, frightened the Germans with deliberate lies. Fischer and Scharping reported massacres and atrocities in Kosovo, mass internment in stadiums and concentration camps. Humanitarian intervention was necessary to prevent genocide. This was the only way to win the support of the German population for the war in Europe, which they would never have agreed to without the manipulative reporting –who wants to accept violations of human rights and atrocities? During the war against Serbia, several public relations offices were installed for the sole purpose of manipulating the public to create an anti-Serbian mood.
How is it today? In hundreds of reports and commentaries on radio, television and in the print media, we are confronted with a very one-sided image of a president: aggressive, authoritarian and martial. This refers to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Today, too, threat scenarios are being claimed. Once again, the OSCE reports the opposite. Russian troops had been “deployed” directly on the border, we have been reading, hearing and seeing in the media for days and weeks. In reality, the annual Russian manoeuvres are taking place a hundred kilometres away from the Ukrainian border – neither appropriately camouflaged, as is usual in the case of intentions to attack, nor in larger numbers than usual – according to the OSCE. Who actually developed and disseminated the term “Putinversteher” (Putin understander)1? It is used to classify and label as somehow suspect anyone who does not unreservedly endorse the agitation against Russia. Respect is different. I would like to see comprehensive, neutral reporting without polarisation or hasty partisanship. Only then is it possible to form an unbiased opinion.
Heidrun Vogel, Wiehl (DE)
1 “Putin understander” means “one who understands Putin” in a perjorative sense.
Has the world become a better place because of war or war rhetoric? Have unkept promises or agreements improved cooperation of people or states? No. Gorbachev and Bush agreed in 1990 that there would be no eastward expansion of NATO, and even held out the prospect that NATO would be transformed into a consultative body involving Russia! Do verbal agreements no longer apply at all?
And what about today?
The expansion of military bases 400-800 km from Ukraine and military bases closer to the Ukrainian border, which have always been there because of Kiev and Sevastopol, are described as Russian build-up of troops on the border with Ukraine, while NATO and also the USA are operational in Ukraine, both with soldiers and equipment. Who is trying to stop today’s Russia from building sustainable trade relations, with sanctions against the country and, in some cases, threats of sanctions against EU states and companies? Who is sowing the well-trodden prejudices against Russia and shouting “Stop thief!” the loudest? Who is trying to interfere in the internal affairs of Russia and its neighbouring states with coloured revolutions? And who started the many wars of the last 30 years, which only led to great destruction, destabilisation and poverty in the target countries and economic gains for the aggressors? 1999 Yugoslavia, 2001 Afghanistan, 2003 Iraq, 2011 Libya, 2011 Syria.
One does not have to and cannot approve of everything that happens in these countries, but a war is not waged for human rights, but only for power and economic interests.
Lutz Geisen, Trimmis (Canton of Grisons)
In the issue of Current Concerns of 18 January (1/2022) there is – politics from “below”, from the people – again a very touching article by Karin Leukefeld about the lives of families in Damascus and Lebanon: a man who returns to his room, not a flat, after a futile search for work in Turkey and whose brother now settles into a “new building” without glass windows; a family whose son says goodbye after New Year because, despite qualified training, he will not find a job in Syria with which to earn a living. A 17-year-old girl, whose education is financed by an uncle in the USA, says goodbye to her parents on New Year’s Day with a heavy heart, because she will probably not see them again for several years. The accounts of these people in the Middle East from countries strangled by provoked wars and economic sanctions reveal a human dignity that is unbroken despite the difficult circumstances.
The situation in Afghanistan has also been portrayed many times in Current Concerns in a comparable compassionate way.
I thank Current Concerns, but also Karin Leukefeld, for these articles, which make the hardships of the families’ survival visible and bring them closer to the readers. Such voices should be spread much more – as an urgent voice against war and a call for help.
Renate Dünki, Oberwangen (Canton of Thurgovia)
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