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The double standard for ‘a peaceful English town’ and Gaza

Media Analysis
on 29 Comments

I love this last sentence of the New York Times editorial titled “A Colder War with Russia?” for the unconscious racist privilege and the prissy, carefully-selective moral outrage.

The former K.G.B. agent in Mr. Putin may find it intolerable that a turncoat is living comfortably in Britain, but it must be made clear to him that the West will unite in fury — yes, including Mr. Trump’s America — when Russia’s most fearsome weapons are deployed in a peaceful English town.

I am agnostic about who did the poisoning (if our Western governments say it was Russia then there is a middling chance it was Russia); and if the Russian government did it then we should respond in some fashion.

But of course the rules are different for quiet English towns. We can do drone assassinations anywhere we want, we can flatten Mosul, Israel can shoot protesters in Gaza– and the West shouldn’t unite in fury about that. We can unite in fury about peaceful English towns. Should other people be uniting in fury about our little escapades?

Donald Johnson

Donald Johnson is a regular commenter on this site, as "Donald."

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29 Responses

  1. mijj on April 1, 2018, 11:31 am

    > ” (if our Western governments say it was Russia then there is a middling chance it was Russia)”

    .. you have to be kidding. It should be assumed that the Government (regardless of who’s government) is lying unless there is solid, independent, material evidence to support Government assertions.

    • Donald on April 1, 2018, 1:37 pm

      I have read the skeptical arguments elsewhere, but don’t feel like I know enough about espionage, chemical weapons, organic chemistry or various other subjects to have a firm view of the matter. That is sort of my general attitude about all situations where intelligence agencies and governments are our main source of information.

      It is fine with me if people want to discuss this in the comments, but I won’t be contributing.

    • RoHa on April 1, 2018, 8:49 pm

      “(if our Western governments say it was Russia then there is a middling chance it was Russia)”

      Two of our Western governments (US and UK) fed us a pack of lies about Iraq. We cannot put any trust in anything they say.

      (Though their statements can be a useful guide if we follow the principle of “never believe anything until it is officially denied”.)

    • on April 2, 2018, 3:53 pm

      Who can trust our intelligence agencies when they have so many underlying hidden agendas. I only trust they will do what’s best for their own self interests and the elites that fund them – directly or indirectly.

      I also feel confident that whatever England or the USA is or has been subject to at the hands of foreign governments they have subjected others too in spades. It’s a tit for tat world in a race to the bottom.

      Having said that, there is little evidence to convict Russia and i find it hard to believe the spy is still alive if they wanted him dead. I have to believe this is all part of some underlying movement to vilify Russia for reasons i don’t know. It appears to have all started with Hillary Clinton and the Democrats – but to what ends? Would Hillary and the Dems start such a large fire as a mere distraction – blaming Russia for meddling in their election?

      • Mooser on April 2, 2018, 4:29 pm

        ” It appears to have all started with Hillary Clinton and the Democrats – but to what ends?”

        It is more than likely that when Hilary Clinton and the Democrats (with their puritanical stance on gambling)caused Trump’s casinos to go broke, and then turned all the major banks against Trump, forcing Trump to become more and more involved with Russian money laundering, they had no idea what the upshot would be, but they assumed it would be bad for Trump.

  2. Ozma on April 1, 2018, 6:34 pm

    Russia had no motive to assassinate the Skripals. Sergey Skripal was in Russian custody serving a prison term for being a double agent with Britain. He was later returned to England on a spy swap deal. If Russia wanted him dead, they would have passed a death sentence on him while he was in Russia. If they feared him, they never would have sent him back to England as a free man.

    The British have not identified a single suspect or witness in this case and their story of how the poisoning happened keeps changing. According to the first story, the Skripals were poisoned while sitting on a bench in a public park. Later this story was changed to the Skripals were poisoned at home but were found slumped on a bench in a park. Putin, if the official story goes, would have wanted wanted his victims moved to a public place.

    Certainly Russia as a scientific country can produce nerve gas, but so can America and so can Porton Down. Neocons in America and NATO who want to break the Iran deal or revive the Cold War have a propaganda motive to attack the Skripals. Russia doesn’t have a motive.

  3. Keith on April 1, 2018, 6:56 pm

    DONALD JOHNSON- “I am agnostic about who did the poisoning….”

    Really? Fourteen years ago Skripal was convicted of spying for the West and was sentenced to 13 years jail time, later released in a prisoner swap. If Russia wanted him dead, why not legally execute him 14 years ago? Why now? Why use a nerve agent superficially linked to Russia? On the other hand, there go those Russian natural gas sales to Europe. I mean Jeez, the stench is overpowering. The scary thing is how the media aggressively promotes the official line even though it is ludicrous.

    • on April 3, 2018, 10:37 am

      Keith you are dead right about the scary thing – why do they promote the official line? Honestly why?

      It seems like every time someone comes up with a theory to try and explain how and why powerful forces/influencers act in sync they are branded a conspiracy theorist. How is it that so many MSM outlets parrot the same message? Why wouldn’t some break free and provide a different angle outside of the official parameters?

      • Keith on April 3, 2018, 5:03 pm

        LHUNTER- “… why do they promote the official line? Honestly why?”

        Promoting the official line is just part of the business. The scary part is that the official line is so ludicrous that the media knows it is BS, yet does it anyway. Apparently, they feel that it is no longer necessary to be even remotely credible, that the faithful follower citizenry will simple go along because they are expected to go along. One reason for this Russia Gate/Skripal nonsense is to utilize political/military confrontation to prevent France and Germany from establishing more extensive economic relations with Russia, and by extension with China via the Belt and Road initiative which would effectively alter the geostrategic balance. As long as it doesn’t lead to war, that might not be a bad thing. A sustainable world is one which emphasizes local autonomy, not massive trade and fossil fuel usage. We are on the cusp of a global financial meltdown and environmental catastrophe. I think that there are those among the elite who recognize the severity of the situation and are desperate to achieve their objectives in what little time remains. These are not normal times, and should not be evaluated as such.

      • Mooser on April 4, 2018, 12:00 pm

        . “One reason for this Russia Gate/Skripal nonsense…”

        Wow, Robert Mueller must be one of, if not the most, corrupt people in the US Government. When it all comes out they will hang him.

      • on April 4, 2018, 8:53 pm

        Keith – a lot there I am not up on – particularly the geopolitical strategies or jostling you mentioned. All interesting.

        Do you believe the MSM is controlled by various arms of the US government? Or that the MSM is just to lazy to investigate what they have been fed? Is there a media cabal that comtrols what we read and see? I’m always trying to understand how/why it is that the MSM is so biased and hell bent on promoting agendas instead of reporting facts/truth.

        Genuinely interested in what you think on this.

      • Sibiriak on April 4, 2018, 10:11 pm

        Mooser: Wow, Robert Mueller must be one of, if not the most, corrupt people in the US Government.

        Rest assured, Mueller will reveal the the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth:

      • Keith on April 5, 2018, 11:24 am

        LHUNTER- “Keith – a lot there I am not up on – particularly the geopolitical strategies or jostling you mentioned.”

        Pepe Escobar writes about the conflicts over proposed pipelines and the geostrategic consequences. Russia has been trying for ages to construct pipelines which link Russia to Europe without going through Ukraine, something the US opposes. A lot of this appears on the CounterPunch website. Of course there is Google. If you want to get a feel for this (from the enemy’s mouth no less) read “the Grand Chessboard” by Zbigniew Brzezinski. Empires don’t become empires by accident.

        LHUNTER- “Do you believe the MSM is controlled by various arms of the US government?”

        The MSM is big business which along with other big businesses are in a synergistic relationship with the government. The MSM represents a kind of consensus of the major concentrations of global capitalist power. A good primer on this is the classic “Manufacturing Consent” by Noam Chomsky and Edward S Herman.

        LHUNTER- “Genuinely interested in what you think on this.”

        I am flattered, however, this goes beyond the scope of the Mondoweiss comments section. If interested, go to my commenter profile and use the link to “Website” which has 50 mini essays on these types of topics.

      • Keith on April 5, 2018, 6:57 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “Rest assured, Mueller will reveal the the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth:”

        I. F. Stone once remarked that “Every government is run by liars. Nothing they say should be believed.” I would argue that all powerful and power-seeking organizations (including government, obviously) are run by people who lie to achieve their ends and whose statements should be viewed with skepticism. Money makes the world go ’round, however, BS is the essential lubricant. It has been said that if businessmen suddenly began acting upon the principles they profess to believe, we would witness the greatest economic upheaval in history.

      • on April 6, 2018, 3:53 pm

        Thx Keith

      • Keith on April 6, 2018, 5:10 pm

        LHUNTER- “Thx Keith”

        You’re welcome. By happy coincidence, Pepe Escobar has an article at The Saker website discussing this very topic. Since strategic considerations are the primary factor involved in imperial Middle East policy, I have provided a brief quote and link to the article. Remember, empires almost never discuss the REAL reasons they do what they do.

        “From the start, Syria was a Pipelineistan war. A key target was to ditch the prospect of a $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline – a memorandum of understanding was signed in 2011 – and replace it with a Qatar to Turkey pipeline via a regime-changed Syria.

        Qatar and the House of Saud ended up certified geopolitical losers in Syria. The Saudi blockade of Qatar failed miserably. The new equation reveals Qatar – supported by Oman and Kuwait – getting closer to Iran and even closer to Turkey.

        Ankara operates the Tariq bin Ziyad military base in Qatar. Iran and Qatar are deepening cooperation in South Pars – the largest gas field on the planet. Stranger things have happened than foreseeing a pipeline finally being completed in the near future, carrying Iran-Qatar gas and transiting through Turkey, even as Russia and China remain actively involved in the Qatari gas industry.

        With the prospect of Syrian reconstruction finally at hand, Beijing will turbo-charge its plans to turn Syria into a key Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) node.” (Pepe Escobar)

      • on April 8, 2018, 8:04 pm

        Keith – great article by Mr. Escobar and insightful comments. What a world we live in. To understand the many conflicts in the region one would be naive not to follow the money. Thx again.

  4. Ozma on April 1, 2018, 6:59 pm

    Russians are guilty until proven guilty.

    • on April 3, 2018, 10:40 am

      According to British lawmakers at that

  5. Bumblebye on April 1, 2018, 8:31 pm

    In the earliest news reports that came out it was pointed out that Skripal’s wife, brother and son have died in mysterious circumstances. As also pointed out above, there were many opportunities for the Russian govt to do away with him instead of using him in a prisoner swap. He is said to have betrayed hundreds of fellow spies for money. I’m pretty sure a number of those, or people linked to them, would have an interest in harming him, and I don’t think it too far fetched to consider that some among them could have access to the means to have carried out such a hit.

  6. RoHa on April 1, 2018, 9:59 pm

    Assassination by injecting a pellet loaded with ricin or spraying cyanide gas into the assassinee’s face are old techniques used by intelligence agencies. They worked, and the Soviet Union was adept at both. Yet in this case, the victims did not die, in spite of the allegedly incredibly, end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it, deadly poison gas that was used.

    It seems highly unlikely to me that the FSB would bungle a straightforward hit.

    • RoHa on April 2, 2018, 12:18 am

      The story of how the poison was administered keeps changing. In the restaurant? The Car? Smeared on the door?

      Or in the porridge?

      But Yulia Skripal is recovering, so it can’t be quite as deadly as is claimed.

      • gamal on April 2, 2018, 11:52 am

        “it can’t be quite as deadly as is claimed”

        foreign muck rarely lives up to expectations, A-234 sounds like a standard food additive, if some one poured me a glass of Novichok, i’d try a sip, instant incapacitation…think of time you’d save.

    • Tuyzentfloot on April 2, 2018, 5:27 am

      As the hasbara crowd on here has already demonstrated profusely it’s not so hard to think up a rationale for whatever conclusion you want to get. I can imagine failed attempts. When all you are interested in is to kill someone effectively you can use plenty of the deadliest poison. But if you want to limit the effect so other people are spared you have to dilute to a certain concentration and then it doesn’t matter if one poison is more deadly than the next one. Only once you limit the concentration it also becomes vulnerable to wild variations: fast decay , large variation in how much is absorbed dependent on what people do exactly.

      My main concern is the eagerness to interpret and escalate what could just as well be treated as a ‘spies amonst each other’ issue. Where do they get the idea that it’s this novichok thing(a family of substances) when there is no clear proof pointing in that direction and when one of the attributes of the novichok family is that it’s easy to make which is the opposite of pointing to a clear culprit? And why do they want to create the most tension out of it (Russians attacked with WMD inside Europe! )

      I wonder if we have anyone left whose job it is to avoid unnecessary escalation. If anyone sees the need for it they sure don’t consider it part of their own job.

  7. Ossinev on April 2, 2018, 1:01 pm

    “He is said to have betrayed hundreds of fellow spies for money”

    On that theme the Jonathan Pollard ” being allowed return to his ancient hysterical homeland ” appears to be on hold:

    Lots of little Ziogems in the article. What caught my eye though was this particular little diamond;
    “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked Trump just last month to release Pollard from the arbitrary and unduly harsh parole conditions that deny his religious freedom”
    So this arch traitor who betrayed his own country (ie the one he swore allegiance to ) for money not principles is being denied religious freedom? So let`s see under his parole conditions eg he can`t do anything identifiably Jewish such as visiting a synagogue? I expect that this news will come as a surprise to many readers. But the Yahoo has said it and he being a paragon of truth it must therefore be true.

    Perhaps it has gone quiet because the Yahoo is waiting for May and the official moving of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Then there can be a double dancing in the streets Ziocelebration. Whenever Pollard does return to his beloved Bibliland ( and I am sure there will be some significant financial rewards for him in the mix – he does after all have serious form when it comes to lining his own pockets ) I am certain that ordinary Americans will just love (not) seeing an American traitor being celebrated and lauded bigtime as an Israeli hero.

    Will be fascinated to see Daffy Donald`s Twitter Take on that one.

    Tick tick

  8. James Canning on April 2, 2018, 1:38 pm

    I am one of those who doubt Putin ordered the attack in Salisbury.

    • gamal on April 2, 2018, 2:17 pm

      Steady on Джеймс, it took them all day to kill that Shaman, and even though the Thames is right there they didn’t even throw him in, all the hallmarks of a bungled Russian op,

      one can say with absolute certainty none of it makes any sense whatsoever, in this instance “doubt” is a very cowardly word, it is in my lifetime just about the most idiotic propaganda event i have ever witnessed, it’s ridiculous and an insult to the people of the UK and Europe, everytime I hear politicians speak about it I can feel their spittle running down my face, i feel humiliated that anyone would put this out there for me to considered…”doubt” fuck the small beer man break out the Sack…

  9. gamal on April 8, 2018, 9:34 pm


    my son believe …..the whole thing is unravelling like Suez ’56, debacle is being redefined

    “the admission by Gary Aitkenhead, Porton Down’s chief executive, that contrary to British Foreign Office claims Porton Down has not been able to confirm that the chemical which poisoned Sergey and Yulia Skripal was made in Russia.

    Ever since then, because British diplomats – not just Boris Johnson – have for weeks been lying about this, the British have been on the defensive.”

    “Skripal case: Russia counter-attacks; Britain responds by tightening access to Yulia Skripa”

    Alexander Mercouris


    “With hindsight the Russians took one step in the early days of the crisis which has paid handsome dividends.

    This was their insistence – made as early as the UN Security Council session of 14th March 2018 – that Britain follow the procedures of the Chemical Weapons Convention and obtain confirmation from the OPCW of the nature of the poison used in the attack.

    The Russians followed this up by convening a meeting of the OPCW’s executive committee on 4th April 2018 at which they presented a resolution which jointly sponsored by Russia, China and Iran for an international investigation of the incident, with law enforcement agencies from Britain and Russia both involved in the investigation.

    This is by no means an absurd or outlandish proposal. On the contrary since Yulia Skripal is a Russian citizen it is precisely what should have happened.

    However – as the Russians of course know – the OPCW has no jurisdiction to impose an international investigation of a crime which has happened in a sovereign state. That is a matter solely within the jurisdiction of that state, and the OPCW – which is not an investigative body – has no authority to order it. The only international institution which does is the UN Security Council.

    There was no possibility therefore of the Russian-Chinese-Iranian proposal being adopted, or of being put into effect if it was adopted, and the Russians – and the Chinese and the Iranians – must have known this when they proposed it.

    However the Russian insistence that the OPCW become involved and verify the British claim that the poison used in the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal was a Novichok, together with the Russians’ call for an international investigation of the incident, and the lists of questions with which in advance of the OPCW executive council session the Russians bombarded the OPCW, the British, and the French – whose experts the British consulted to verify the identity of the poison – set the scene for the admission by Gary Aitkenhead, Porton Down’s chief executive, that contrary to British Foreign Office claims Porton Down has not been able to confirm that the chemical which poisoned Sergey and Yulia Skripal was made in Russia.

    Ever since then, because British diplomats – not just Boris Johnson – have for weeks been lying about this, the British have been on the defensive.

    As it happens the OPCW executive council session, like the UN Security Council session which Russia called shortly after, also demonstrated another important fact.

    This is that the Skripal crisis is an East-West confrontation – the West versus the Eurasian powers led by Russia and China – and not a confrontation between a ‘united world community’ and an ‘isolated Russia’, as British and other Western commentators like to claim”

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