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Is Big Media Echoing Accusations to Demonize Russia and Continue Afghan War?

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The New York Times on Friday published a piece titled: “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.”

The following analysts are scrutinizing this story:

MATTHEW HOH, matthew_hoh at riseup.net
Hoh resigned in protest from his State Department position in Afghanistan in 2009 over the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama administration; he also served in Iraq with the Marines.

He said today: “This is not the first time Russia has been accused of trying to harm U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. In 2017 and 2018 accusations were that Russia was supplying weapons to the Taliban were loudly repeated by the U.S. press, however, when put on record about such accusations, senior U.S., Afghan and NATO officials admitted there was no evidence to back such claims. In fact, the only confirmation of Russian involvement militarily in Afghanistan was the provision of 10,000 weapons to the Afghan government in 2016 by the Russians.

“This is more a story of the abdication of journalistic standards and critical practice than it really is about the war in Afghanistan. That nearly all corporate-owned media in the U.S. are simply repeating the claims of anonymous officials, claims that are made without any evidence, just demonstrates U.S. corporate media has become a public relations tool of the U.S. government. After corporate media’s willingness to repeat the baseless and unfounded claims, lies really, made by the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump in justifying U.S. war in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and now throughout Africa, it is no surprise they would go along, willingly and enthusiastically, with anonymous statements made without evidence, once again, in order to justify war in the Muslim world, to increase tensions with Russia, and to stoke Pentagon and military industry budgets. It should be noted nearly all the experts quoted in print or appearing on television/radio to speak about these claims are retired generals who are on the boards of military companies or residents of think tanks that receive funding from the U.S. government and/or the military industry.

“This has always been the nature of U.S. war in its imperial form, with false accusations supported by an excited media to create the domestic political support for war, or continued war. This is true of U.S. wars in Vietnam, Central America, the Spanish American War, the acquisition of Hawaii, the Mexican American War, U.S. support for the British Opium Wars, and, for hundreds of years, wars of genocide against the Indigenous people of this land.

“Of course, these dangerous accusations come at a time when peace efforts have reached a point in Afghanistan not seen since the early 1990s. Such an attempt to stop efforts to end a war with a continued value to the U.S. military industry, and elements within the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, should be expected.”

Hoh, a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy, who is also a 100 percent disabled veteran, has written extensively about U.S. wars for the last decade and has conducted hundreds of media interviews. See an appearance on CSPAN last year discussing the war in Afghanistan. His pieces include “Authorizations for Madness; The Effects and Consequences of Congress’ Endless Permissions for War,” “And the Armies That Remained Suffer’d: Veterans, Moral Injury and Suicide” and “Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies.”

SCOTT HORTON, via ed at scotthorton.org, @scotthortonshow
Horton is author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editorial director of Antiwar.com. He said of the recent reports: “The NYTWSJ and Washington Post stories all rely only on anonymous officials’ claims. These sources did not even describe the nature of the supposed intelligence to the reporters, much less prove their case. The journalists who wrote the articles have all cited each other as ‘confirming’ their stories on Twitter, when they all are still only repeating the same hearsay. (In a later follow-up, the Times added a few details, but still no reason to believe.)

“The timing is of course very suspicious due to impending negotiations with the Taliban and current negotiations with Russia, on U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and nuclear arms.

“After the intelligence agencies lied directly to the American people about Iraq’s unconventional weapons, Libya’s impending genocide, Syria’s ‘moderate rebel’ terrorists and especially the late-Russiagate hoax, every claim they make should be considered an outright lie until proven otherwise.

“Russia has supported U.S. efforts in Afghanistan since 2001. If they are now trying to give our government an excuse to stay bogged down in that no-win quagmire, then what does that say about our current occupation there in the first place?

“In 2017, the army admitted that there was no evidence for claims by officials to the media, such as CNN, that Russia was supplying weapons to the Taliban. War veteran journalists at Task and Purpose handily debunked those claims as well.

“There is no reason at all to believe the current accusations are any more credible.”

Others critics cited examples of U.S. policy killing or targeting Russians in Syria and in Afghanistan.

Shutdown Government, Expand Military: * Afghan War After 12 years * Africa Attacks * U.S. Global Bases

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MATTHEW HOH, mphoh1 at yahoo.com, @MatthewHoh
Hoh is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and is the former director of the Afghanistan Study Group. A former Marine and State Department official, Hoh resigned in protest from his post with the State Department in Afghanistan over U.S. strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan in 2009. He said today: “It is fitting that as we pass the 12-year mark of the U.S. and Western invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. government is shut down, our economy, education system and infrastructure continues their persistent degradation, and the American people, for the first time ever, now believe their children will not be better off than they. The failure of the United States’ war in Afghanistan, a failure that has been obvious for quite some time, like our own domestic failings, is a testament to a broken American political order and a $1 trillion a year national security Leviathan. Of course, the Afghan people are no closer to becoming a country at peace than at any time since the 1970s and the United States must and should understand its responsibility and culpability in the continuing death, loss and chaos. 

“Similarly, in Libya and Somalia, again violence and military force is proving not to be a solution to terrorism. We have to understand the root causes. And many times these root causes are local and regional issues we have a poor grasp of — and sometimes those root causes are grievances against U.S. policies. In Somalia, we keep losing sight of the fact that al-Shabab has not conducted operations anywhere that was not related to occupation of Somalia, this is true for their operations in Uganda and their recent attack in Kenya. So much of this is tied to the U.S. sponsored Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. In Libya, our support in the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government, to include the killing of the man that the U.S. State Department had defined as a reliable ally in the war on terror, has led to continued chaos and a vacuum in government. Two years later we find ourselves having to kidnap a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. How can we describe our operations in Libya to have been successful or a model for future operations as is so often described by administration officials or pundits?”

VIJAY PRASHAD, vp01 at aub.edu.lb, @vijayprashad
Edward Said chair at American University in Beirut, Prashad is co-editor of Dispatches from the Arab Spring and author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter. He said today: “The UN’s mission in Libya has attempted to create a law and order based governance system in the most difficult circumstances. On 22 September, the Libyan government, with help from the UN mission, passed a law on transitional justice with rules that include provisions on fact-finding, reparations for victims and accountability. The entire UN-authorized mission of 2011 run by NATO was legitimized by human rights questions. The current U.S. raid on Libya to capture a man (indicted in 2000 for the 1998 al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. targets in East Africa) from the upscale Noufleen neighborhood in Tripoli undermines the process driven by the Libyan government and the UN mission in Libya. The U.S. has no extradition treaty with Libya but there are other legal avenues to have used before the snatch and render method employed. There is no indication that the U.S. had ever asked the Libyans to extradite the suspect, nor that the U.S. informed the Libyans of this operation. It is a major setback to Libyan efforts to create transitional justice, and once more calls into question the U.S. commitment to a rules and regulations society.”

DAVID VINE, vine at american.edu
Vine is associate professor of anthropology at American University and is author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia. He is currently completing a book about the effects of U.S. military bases located outside the United States.

He recently wrote the piece “The Italian Job: How the Pentagon Is Using Your Tax Dollars to Turn Italy into a Launching Pad for the Wars of Today and Tomorrow” for Tom Dispatch.

The piece states: “The Pentagon has spent the last two decades plowing hundreds of millions of tax dollars into military bases in Italy, turning the country into an increasingly important center for U.S. military power. Especially since the start of the Global War on Terror in 2001, the military has been shifting its European center of gravity south from Germany, where the overwhelming majority of U.S. forces in the region have been stationed since the end of World War II. In the process, the Pentagon has turned the Italian peninsula into a launching pad for future wars in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. …

“Our bases in Italy are making it easier to pursue new wars and military interventions in conflicts about which we know little, from Africa to the Middle East. Unless we question why we still have bases in Italy and dozens more countries like it worldwide — as, encouragingly, growing numbers of politicians, journalists, and others are doing — those bases will help lead us, in the name of American ‘security’, down a path of perpetual violence, perpetual war, and perpetual insecurity.”