“Ingsoc. The sacred principles of ingsoc. Newspeak, double-speak, the mutability of the past.”
~ George Orwell, 1984
As today dawned, I was looking out the window into the cold grayness with small patches of snow littering the frozen ground. As light snow began to fall, I felt a deep mourning in my soul as a memory came to me of another snowy day in 1972 when I awoke to news of Richard Nixon’s savage Christmas bombing of North Vietnam with more than a hundred B-52 bombers, in wave after wave, dropping death and destruction on Hanoi and other parts of North Vietnam. I thought of the war the United States is now waging against Russia via Ukraine and how, as during the U.S. war against Vietnam, few Americans seem to care until it becomes too late. It depressed me.
Soon after I was greeted by an editorial from The New York Times’ Editorial Board, “A Brutal New Phase of the War in Ukraine.” It is a piece of propaganda so obvious that only those desperate to believe blatant lies would not fall down laughing. Yet it is no laughing matter, for The N.Y. Times is advocating for a wider war, more lethal weapons for Ukraine, and escalation of the fighting that risks nuclear war. So their title is apt because they are promoting the brutality. This angered me.
The Times’ Editorial Board tells us that President Putin, like Hitler, is mad. “Like the last European war, this one is mostly one man’s madness.” Russia and Putin are “cruel”; are conducting a “regular horror” with missile strikes against civilian targets; are “desperate”; are pursuing Putin’s “delusions”; are waging a “terrible and useless war”; are “committing atrocities”; are responsible for “murder, rape and pillaging,” etc.
On the other hand, “a heroic Ukraine” “has won repeated and decisive victories against Russian forces” who have lost “well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded,” according to the “reliable” source, chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley. To add to this rosy report, the Ukrainians seem to have suffered no causalities since none are mentioned by the cozy Times’ Editorial Board members from their keyboards on Eighth Avenue. When you support a US war, as has always been TheTimes’ modus operandi as a stenographer for the government, mentioning the dead pawns used to accomplish the imperialists’ dreams is bad manners. So are the atrocities committed by those forces, so they too have been omitted. Neo-Nazis, the Azov Battalion? They too must never have existed since they are not mentioned.
But then, according to the esteemed editorial writers, this is not a US proxy war waged via Ukraine by US/NATO “to strip Russia of its destiny and greatness.” No, it is simply Russian aggression, supported by “the Kremlin’s propaganda machinery” that has churned “out false narratives about a heroic Russian struggle against forces of fascism and debauchery.” US/NATO were “horrified by the crude violation of the postwar order,” so we are laughingly told, and so came to Ukraine’s defense as “Mr. Putin’s response has been to throw ever more lives, resources and cruelty at Ukraine.”
Nowhere in this diatribe by the Times’ Board of propagandists – and here the whole game is given away for anyone with a bit of an historical sense – is there any mention of the US engineered coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014. It just didn’t happen. Never happened. Magic by omission. The US, together with the Ukrainian government “led” by the puppet-actor “President Volodymyr Zelensky,” are completely innocence parties, according to the Times.(Note also, that nowhere in this four page diatribe is President Putin addressed by his title, as if to say that “Mr. Putin” is illegitimate and Zelensky is the real thing.)
All the problems stem from when “Mr. Putin seized Crimea and stirred up a secessionist conflict in eastern Ukraine n 2014.”
Nowhere is it mentioned that for years on end US/NATO has been moving troops and weapons right up to Russia’s borders, that George W. Bush pulled the US out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and that Trump did the same with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, that the US has set up so-called anti-ballistic missile sites in Poland and Rumania and asserted its right to a nuclear first-strike, that more and more countries have been added to NATO’s eastern expansion despite promises to Russia to the contrary, that 15,000 plus mostly Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine have been killed by Ukrainian forces for years before February 2022, that the Minsk agreements were part of a scheme to give time for the arming of Ukraine, that the US has rejected all calls from Russia to respect its borders and its integrity, that the US/NATO has surrounded Russia with military bases, that there was a vote in Crimea after the coup, that the US has been for years waging economic war on Russia via sanctions, etc. In short, all of the reasons that Russia felt that it was under attack for decades and that the US was stone deaf to its appeals to negotiate these threats to its existence. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that if all were reversed and Russia had put troops and weapons in Mexico and Canada that the United States would respond forcefully.
This editorial is propaganda by omission and strident stupidity by commission.
The editorial has all its facts “wrong,” and not by accident. The paper may say that its opinion journalists’ claims are separate from those of its newsroom, yet their claims echo the daily barrage of falsehoods from its front pages, such as:
- Ukraine is winning on the battlefield.
- “Russia faces decades of economic stagnation and regression even if the war ends soon.”
- That on Jan.14, as part of its cruel attacks on civilian targets, a Russian missile struck an apartment building in Dnipro, killing many.
- Only one man can stop this war – Vladimir Putin – because he started it.
- Until now, the US and its allies were reluctant to deploy heavy weapons to Ukraine “for fear of escalating this conflict into an all-in East-West war.”
- Russia is desperate as Putin pursues “his delusions.”
- Putin is “isolated from anyone who would dare to speak truth to his power.”
- Putin began trying to change Ukraine’s borders by force in 2014.
- During the last 11 months Ukraine has won repeated and decisive victories against Russian forces …. The war is at a stalemate.”
- The Russian people are being subjected to the Kremlin’s propaganda machinery “churning out false narratives.”
This is expert opinion for dummies. A vast tapestry of lies, as Harold Pinter said in his Nobel Prize address. The war escalation the editorial writers are promoting is in their words, “this time pitting Western arms against a desperate Russia,” as if the US/NATO does not have CIA and special forces in Ukraine, just weapons, and as if “this time” means it wasn’t so for the past nine years at least as the US was building Ukraine’s military and arms for this very fight.
It is a fight they will lose in the days to come. Russia was, is, and will triumph.
Everything in the editorial is disingenuous. Simple propaganda: the good guys against the bad guys. Putin another Hitler. The good guys are winning, just as they did in Vietnam, until reality dawned and it had to be admitted they weren’t (and didn’t). History is repeating itself.
Little has changed and so my morning sense of mourning when I remembered Nixon and Kissinger’s savagery at Christmas 1972 was appropriate. As then, so today, we are being subjected to a vast tapestry of lies told by the corporate media for their bosses, as the US continues its doomed efforts to control the world. It is not Russia that is desperate now, but propagandists such as the writers of this strident and stupid editorial. It is not the Russian people who need to wake up, as they claim, but the American people and those who still cling to the myth that The New York Times Corporation is an organ of truth. It is the Ministry of Truth with its newspeak, doublespeak, and its efforts to change the past.
Let Harold Pinter have the last words:
The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.
Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He is the author of Seeking Truth in a Country of Lies (Clarity Press). His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/.
29 thoughts on “The New York Times Is Orwell’s Ministry of Truth”
I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, and I couldn’t agree more with your essay about that editorial in the NYT.
I almost agree. Certainly, NYT is garbage. It’s sad the average person doesn’t see that yet. But will russia “win”?
No. Chances are, there will be a negotiated end. There is almost always a negotiated end when established nation states are involved.
even if Russia got an “unconditional surrender”, how can you call it a “win”, when a hundred thousand russians died? That’s not winning. That’s trading. That’s trading lives for territory.
Negotiated from what stopping point?
The West expected to negotiate from either an insurgency raging across all of Ukraine, or from a Ukraine that controls most of the territory as it did before Minsk II.
The Russians have won if we negotiate from a stopping point of Russian tanks on the Polish border, and a population so displaced and nation so wrecked that the insurgency the West imagined is not practical.
I think you ought to stop thinking about war as having “winners” and “losers”. There is not a fixed end condition like chess or monopoly or star craft. There are many many different endings, each with different values to the various participants.
Is russia “winning” if it takes over all of Ukraine. Perhaps we’d say that’s winning. Is it still winning if it cost them the lives of say, 2 million men? I don’t think even putin, if he knew beforehand that would be the cost, would be willing to enter this war, even for all of Ukraine. If there are two results, one in which russia gains Ukraine for 2 hundred thousand, one for 2 million, I think Putin would view it as a war he lost on the second options.
Suppose Ukraine wants to “win”. Suppose for them that means obtaining everything ever associated with Ukraine, including Crimea. Suppose it cost 2 million lives. Is that really winning?
Suppose on top of this they further insist Russia pay reparations. This certainly is not enforceable, unless they counter invade Russia. Well, anything short of this is a “negotiated end”.
Suppose Ukraine simply can’t ever get Crimea back. This is in all likelihood the case. Then however this ends, it will be a negotiated end. and they might quibble over this town or that town exactly. But it will be a negotiation.
Perhaps Ukraine’s options are negotiate now, keep the territory you have, or negotiate later, have less territory, but enter NATO. Perhaps they are, perhaps they aren’t. But if this is the case, and they negotiate now, then russia isn’t “winning” in the sense that they aren’t getting the most they could. And Ukraine is “winning” in the sense that they are getting the most they could. Of course, this doesn’t really feel like “winning” to either side.
But if the standard for russia “winning” is “tanks on the Polish Border”, then Ukraine should negotiate now! Russia doesn’t have a dream of putting tanks on the polish border and is hundreds of miles from it!
Unless of course, you mean Russian tanks in Belarus. But if your standard for Russia losing is that the government of belarus must either be overthrown or break their alliance with Russia… I don’t think you could possibly mean such a ridiculous standard.
Whatever the situation is, it will be negotiated. It won’t be an unconditional surrender. It almost never is.
Now, you did put some other conditions on “winning” for russia. Like if the ukrainian population is “displace”, and the nation is “wrecked”. If this is your standard, Russia has won and Ukraine will never ever ever will. Undoing this is not possible, even if Ukraine miraculously counter invaded russia and forced reparations. those displaced are not ever coming back, and the reparations will never be large enough.
There is no “winning” and “losing” in war. It’s always a negotiated settlement.
If the Russians are lucky, they’ll be able to secure the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and possibly a narrow land corridor connecting them to Crimea.
They’re not likely to get any more than that.
If I remember correctly, that was one of the stated goals of the invasion so if I was a Russian politician I would book that as a win.
The stated goals of the invasion were “de-Nazification and de-militarization” of Ukraine, aka regime change.
My hypothesis the whole time — or at least once my assessment that the move toward Kyiv was a strategic feint to keep Ukrainian troops in the west where they wouldn’t be able to contest Donetsk/Luhansk, rather than a real attempt to take Kyiv, was seemingly proven correct — was that DPR/LPR/land corridor were the real objectives, based on my further assessment that Putin wasn’t an idiot or megalomaniac. And I still think I’m right.
But after 11 months, the Russians still haven’t secured Donetsk. That suggests that they either lack, or for some reason have decided not to bring to bear, the ability to do so in a reasonably timely manner. It’s not a “win” yet. I think it will be, but whether it’s worth the cost is a different question.
The good guys DID win in Vietnam. The bad guys lost. Vietnam – and the anti-imperialist forces – won. The US – and imperialism – lost.
Those “good guys” dug mass graves to throw the thousands of executed “prisoners” who were convincted in kangaroo courts of being “anti-revolutionary”.
You’re not anti-war, and you’re not anti-violence. You apparently are perfectly fine with violence as long as it’s communist leftist violence. There were no good guys on either side of the Vietnam war. The vietcong are only the “good guys” when you intentionally turn a blind eye to their terrorism campaigns.
You have no idea what I am. I could just as easily dismiss you as a jingoist supporter of imperialism and genocide based on your post.
What I was referring to was the fact that the Vietnamese people were defending their country from invading imperialists looking to step into the position of the former French imperialists in the same way they stepped into the position of the Japanese imperialists in Korea, etc. and the US was attempting to impose itself on a nation on the other side of the world.
Justice, in this case, is on the side of the defenders of their homeland.
Sorry if this is confusing or painful for you. That is not my doing. And I am under no obligation to pretend that your misunderstanding of reality is anything but.
The Vietnamese people were not defending their country from invading imperialists. Some of them were fighting the US, some of them were fighting alongside the US, most of them were just trying to hide away from either side of the conflict, Some of them were fighting other Vietnamese. You can’t lump “the Vietnamese people” into one large group that was acting in concert. But if you insist on doing that, then this group includes peoples who committed mass murders against other Vietnamese people.
This wasn’t a war about imperialism vs not imperialism. This was a war between imperialism and communism. Both sides were violent. Both sides were bad. Neither side was justified.
“This wasn’t a war about imperialism vs not imperialism. This was a war between imperialism and communism.”
Communism is just a variant of imperialism.
War is just a bad thing all around. It’s profitable for the ruling classes, and hell on everyone else.
I’ll agree with you there. Communism is just another form of imperialism. So the Vietnam war was about the imperialists vs the imperialists.
The Geneva Accords called for elections in Vietnam in 1954. The USA blocked them because they didn’t want the majority of Vietnamese to have their way. With the US it’s our way, or the highway of death.
So? what’s your point? that the American government was the bad guy somehow absolves the Vietcong of their atrocities?
Also, it’s not “our” way. The american elite have very little to do with the american citizens.
“So? what’s your point? that the American government was the bad guy somehow absolves-”
Oh good – then you don’t deny the US’s intervention prevented negotiated and scheduled elections – instead, dividing the country in two – or that this US action was “bad.”
But why was it “bad”?
The reason it was “bad” has nothing to do with their up and coming elections. Democracy is also bad. The reason the US’s intervention was bad is because killing people is bad. Gee, you wouldn’t think that’s to hard to grasp.
Now, I have criticized the US interventions multiple times in this very conversation. And you have yet to even acknowledge what the communists in vietnam did. You keep bringing it back to the US. WE ALREADY AGREE THE US WAS IN THE WRONG!
It’s very typical for the “anti-war” crowd who are really just “anti-US” to use such tactics. Dodge, deflect, ignore. Very typical. Can you just admit, for example, the viet cong massacred somewhere between 2 and 6 thousand civilians and POW in hue? many buried alive, others clubbed to death? or the hundreds kiled in the Đắk Sơn massacre? or Son Tra or Thạnh Mỹ or Đức Dục or the shelling of Highway 1?
Turns out, murder is wrong and both sides did it. So you can quit erasing the vietnamese side of the equation.
“The reason [prevent[ing] negotiated and scheduled elections] was ‘bad’ has nothing to do with their up and coming elections.”
Instead of allowing nationwide elections, the US created a bloody civil war – permanently partitioning the country, piling weapons into the undemocratic, puppet govt south, and shooting and bombing the north for 12+ years after a popular nationalist movement drove out the French.
But the US’s interventionism – not just its killing people, but its obstruction of elections in the first place, which created the civil war, including awful massacres like Hu – was not “bad”?
Advance thanks for supporting an otherwise worthless claim.
There is nothing inherently good about democracy. That the move caused war is bad. That was my claim. You have falsely contorted my claim into one about all the subsequent consequences of America opposition to a unified Vietnam democracy.
Democracy is also fundamentally bad. The reason America’s actions were bad had nothing to do with America’s opposition to democracy. It has to do with the means and the actions it took to oppose it, I.E. military action.
Nice try attributing a massacre perpetrated by the Vietcong on America. America’s involvement in Vietnam was wrong, but it didn’t cause the Vietcong to lose their volition and randomly murder citizens. No, they were bloody of their own accord.
“Nice try attributing a massacre perpetrated by the Vietcong on America.”
1/ already explained how u.s. intervention – preventing elections and creating and arming an unpopular govt – created the civil war that killed and maimed millions in the north and south – including awful massacres
2/ explaining is not justifying – those who massacred committed terrible acts, but the civil war and resulting millions of deaths are mainly attributable to u.s. intervention…
3/ …same as slaves engaged in some terrible acts of resistance to slavery…but historians attribute all resistance and the war to slavery: recognize that the u.s. government=supported institution and perpetuation of slavery created resistance as slaves struggled to regain their liberty – including those terrible acts.
ie – the civil war was not only a lot of individual acts of killing – the ‘deep cause’ of the civil war was slavery; same goes for popular nationalistic resistance to the US’s artificial carving up of Vietnam vs voting, as the vast majority wanted
The massacre at hue was not a result of the war. It is perfectly in line with a long litany of communist massacres. Kangaroo courts that round up “counter revolutionaries” and imprison or slaughter them. It had nothing to do with quelling enemy actors in a civil war. This was just your average run of the mill communist massacre.
Certainly, explaining is not justifying. But you’re not just explaining. You’re justifying. You said these events are “attributable” to the US. That’s just a bald faced lie. The massacre at hue is attributable to one group and one group only, and that is the communists. America didn’t “force their hand”. They didn’t “provoke” them. Perhaps you might have a case if we were talking about US or south Vietnamese forces. But you’re not. You are in your own words “attributing” to america the slaughter of vietnamese people who were uninvolved in the war by the vietcong. It’s ridiculous. This is as bad as “she got raped because of her short skirt”.
Did American “elites” order our GIs to “Kill Anything that Moves” in Vietnam, resulting in what Nick Turse documents (from once secret Pentagon files, a “My Lai a month” while we were there? As MLK said in ’67, America is the greatest purveyor of terror in the world. T’was true then. It’s true today.https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nick-turse-kill-anything-that-moves_b_2897858
Hey, I saw a comment of yours under an article about Vincent Bugliosi’s JFK book. The comments section is locked because of how old it is so I couldn’t reply there. You mentioned that you weren’t a fan of the book and that Bugliosi sent you 12 page of legal threats because he didn’t like something you said.
Have you read Chaos by Tom O’neil? It’s very good, even though parts of the thesis are farfetched. It’s a detailed investigation into the lies of Bugliosi in the Manson case and it shows that Bugliosi is much more of a liar and a psycho than anyone knew.
BTW, excellent dissection of that NYT propaganda that is exactly as you characterize it: propaganda by omission and strident stupidity by commission.
For our leadership, there has been no mission creep. This larger mission was always their intended mission. They have not been misled by lies.
They are liars. They lie to us about the original mission, about their original intentions, about their current intentions, about their real reasons. The NYT tells us those lies, does their work for them.
Yup – most vile propagandistic NYT editorial board editorial I’ve read.
Single most pernicious part imo:
the lead sentence assertion that “the one man who can stop” the war, “Putin, has shown no signs that he will do so” – as the editorial puts it later, though “Putin shows no readiness to talk…[t]he job at hand is to persuade Russia that a negotiated peace is the only option.”
The prob here is not just that it’s false (the US has ongoingly rejected negotiation; Russia has repeatedly said it’s ready to talk);
the worst of it is:
1/ that it’ a recipe for endless war in disguise – since by unrealistically assigning Russia complete responsibility for ‘just leaving’ as a precondition for negotiations (the US’s present stance), it justifies rejecting US-led negotiation vs. endless hot war;
and 2/ this assertion is anti-democratic. Because making Russia purely responsible for ending the war tells Americans who demand negotiation, ‘No – just as only Ukraine can decide when to negotiate, so, likewise, only Russia can decide when it will leave Ukraine completely, thereby making negotiation possible.’
Upshot: the idea that only Russia can end the war politically disenfranchises Americans – at bottom, it dishonestly tells Americans they can have no agency in ending the war other than the unpopular hot war with no diplomacy strategy of their government.
What an excellent essay by Edward Curtin! Really, it is difficult to overstate the degree of thought-control that the major US news media have accomplished, going back at least to the late 1980’s and probably (with a little digging) we could trace it back to the mid-1970’s. I’m not talking about the obvious stuff, the positive propaganda about why the US had to intervene in one country or another for that country’s own good. There was plenty of that leading into the Vietnam War period as well as after. What’s notable about the Vietnam War is the freedom that journalists had to write about what was happening and to document it with film and photography. That made a big difference in the public attitude, and contributed strongly toward ending the war.
What is really different since the late 80’s is what we don’t see. Now, of course, journalists are all ’embedded’ with US military units and their product is curated by military overseers. You’ll see lots of exciting photos to demonstrate our massive power, or our boundless kindness to widows and children. Beyond that, and much more than before, is how much we do not hear about foreign affairs until there is a crisis. Okay, that’s not a really new phenomenon, but it has been amplified, in the way Mr. Curtin describes, so that we are kept in deep ignorance of what is happening even while we read the papers and try to stay abreast of what’s happening. It is cultivated, premeditated ignorance. Or as Harold Pinter put it, clever hypnosis.
During the past year, as I have tried to understand the Ukraine situation, many small pieces of recent history around Russia begin to form a coherent pattern, while at the same time I begin to realize how US foreign policy since the fall of the USSR is consistently and methodically designed to achieve global unipolar imperial power. I’m thinking specifically about the ‘Color Revolutions’, one of which occurred in Ukraine ca. 2004. Many of those ‘revolutions’ just happen to be at the borders of Russia. How curious!
It’s a little late to do much about that, even if there ever was an opening. But I think the mask is finally coming off the US Empire (for those not completely hypnotized), and it’s uglier and more brutal than even I imagined.
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