US journalist: How the Internet Turned Me Into a ‘Russia Apologist’


It started in 2008. Before that I did not pay attention to what was happening in Russia. I saw a few headlines: Chechnya, default, wheat shipments in aid. They were the sort of thing you see on the crawl at the bottom of the screen on CNN. That was enough; I had other things to worry about.

But then my cousin said, check out this picture of a meeting between Putin and Bush in Beijing. They were in the bleachers talking about something bad – Putin looked fierce and Bush looked flummoxed. Whoa, there was a war starting? What war? Where?

Well, one thing led to another. I was curious. TV was awful and the CNN website had few facts so I started searching. European news sites were much better. The video of all those Russian tanks snaking through the Caucasus Mountains and out of the Roki tunnel to Georgia was quite impressive. Oh, crap, I thought, here we go: Armageddon. Then over the weekend all the US news outlets – when they mentioned the war during breaks from football games and the Olympics – increasingly gasped about Russian aggression and no provocation and look out, Eastern Europe, you are next.

But that didn’t match what I saw on Russian, Indian, and German news. What I saw on non-US news was the Georgian soldier laughing as he filmed himself shooting holes in apartment blocks, or the shop owners in a Gori market saying bombs? What bombs? We’re all still here.

Or the burned out cars, some still aflame, which had once held living families trying to flee Tshkinvali, South Ossetia. Or the people who had to bury their dead secretly in their gardens, not cemeteries, for fear of Georgian rockets. Or the woman days later who said she had seen black-skinned soldiers with American insignia included with the Georgian dead. Or the little American girl who had been visiting family there when Georgia attacked and said, Thank God the Russians were there, and FOX News immediately went to a station break and hustled her away from the cameras.

What I didn’t see on non-US news was the Russian army invading Tbilisi. I predicted they would circle the capital, spike the guns in the military bases there, and go back north. And they did. I didn’t see the Russian army bombing the presidential palace, although if it had been me in charge President Saakashvili would not have had a palace to sleep in. But the Russian army was more restrained than I would have been. By midweek I predicted the Russians would attack near Senaki, and sure enough they did.

How did I know? I found two maps on the web that showed where all the military bases were and where all the battles were. With one exception they correlated; that exception was where two highways crossed near Gori and there the Russians caught up with the Georgians.

So I discovered that I could tell where the Russians would go next. Once I realized what the Russians were up to, I started to laugh. I especially laughed at US news sites, which all seemed to have received the same memo: Bad Russia Invaded Poor Little Georgia for No Good Reason. Even when Saakashvili changed his story and admitted he had started the war and mowed down Russian peacekeepers to get to the Ossetians (“I lied, but I had a good reason!”), American news sites stuck to their standard story.

After the shooting stopped, I really laughed when the US military huffily demanded Russia return four Humvees the Russians had captured in battle. Either that, or pay the US $450,000. For only four crappy Humvees! We didn’t even say if there was armor on them or anything. And back home we could buy them retail, drive off the lot, no haggling, for $80,000 each (2008 price). I couldn’t believe the brass. If that was what the Department of Defense paid for them, then we “got took” by suppliers. Again! (The Russians kept the Humvees as war prizes, I heard later. Good luck with the gas mileage, guys.)

So with the Georgia war I became somewhat skeptical of US-based news and very interested in Russia and its leadership. And I have learned since then that the Georgia war was not a fluke, that our media consistently gets the story wrong or only tells half of it, and that the United States government is still in the business of starting proxy wars against Russia. Forget that we “won” the Cold War according to President Reagan. We were still fighting it in 2008, only with sneak attacks and by trying to ‘ring fence’ Russia with military bases.

So why did we fear Russia so much we had to wrap NATO around it? It took me a while to reach a conclusion – meanwhile I watched what Medvedev and Putin were doing, read all the Russian scandals discussed at length back home, scoured all the foreign news outlets that had English language websites, and subscribed to Google news searches.

The Russians had given up communism so that couldn’t be the reason. They had a lot of resources that they would not let us stripmine, and the Yukos shut-down snatched ownership from Grandpa Rothschild just as he was closing his fingers on it, so it must have been economic. Also Russia made those big oil and gas deals with China and priced them in Yuan, not dollars. Economic again.

I finally decided the United States hates Russia because Russia refuses to be a client state. And especially we hate Putin because he makes Russians uncooperative and he is so popular at home we cannot overthrow him with a color revolution. He is the pebble in our shoe, one that we keep trying to find and remove but we somehow fail to dislodge. So we look to the rest of the world as if we are performing a funny little dance while we complain about Putin.

Meanwhile our news outlets keep beating the drums about how Putin is a dictator and Russia is about to collapse, any day now, and how we should be very afraid of them because they hate us for our democracy. I wonder why our media really want us to be afraid of Russia.

Are they planning a war any time soon? Another one? That we are supposed to join and support? Don’t they know we can get real news outside of the US?

American news outlets will continue to accuse RT of spreading “fake news”; but they’re the ones who make RT appear as “Radio Free America” to people who are tired of the same old screeching at home.

Color me skeptical. I guess that makes me a “Russia Apologist.” (c) Margaret Jannsen