By James Petras
With the collapse of the Communist countries in the 1990’s and their conversion to capitalism, followed by the advent of neo-liberal regimes throughout most of Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America, the imperial regimes in the US and EU have established a new political spectrum, in which the standards of acceptability narrowed and the definition of adversaries expanded.
Over the past quarter century, the US and EU turned their focus from systemic adversaries (anti-capitalist and anti-imperial states and movements) to attacking capitalist regimes, which (1) had adopted nationalist, re-distributive and Keynesian policies; (2) had opposed military interventions, coups and bases; (3) had aligned with non-Western capitalist powers; (4) had opposed Zionist colonization of Palestine and Gulf State-financed Islamist terrorists; (5) and had refuse to follow the financial agendas dictated by Wall Street and the City of London investment houses, speculators and vulture funds.
The Western imperial regimes (by which we mean the US, Canada and the EU) have exercised their political, military, economic and propaganda powers to (1) eliminate or limit the variety of capitalist options; (2) control the kinds of market-state relations; and (3) secure compliance through punitive military invasions, occupations and economic sanctions against targeted adversaries.
The ‘Media Troika’: the Financial Press and Political Warfare
The major financial newspapers of record in the United States have played a key role in disseminating the post-communist political line regarding what are acceptable capitalist policies: The Wall Street Journal, (WSJ), the New York Times (NYT), and the Financial Times (FT) – the ‘Troika’ – have systematically engaged in political warfare acting as virtual propaganda arms of the US and EU imperialist governments in their attempts to impose and/or maintain vassal state status on countries and economies, ‘regulated’ according to the needs of Western financial institutions.
The propaganda Troika not only reflects the interests and policies of the ruling elites, but their editors, journalists and commentators shape policies through their reportage, analyses and editorials.
The Troika’s methods of political operation and the substance of their policies preclude any kind of balanced reportage.
Day in and day out, the Troika (1) fabricates ‘crises’ for adversaries and illusory promises of ‘recovery’ for vassals; (2) distorts and/or omits favorable information regarding adversaries, dismissing targeted regimes as ‘authoritarian’ and ‘corrupt’. In contrast, obedient and submissive rulers are described as ‘pragmatic’ and ‘realist’. The Troika attributes ‘military threats’ and ‘aggressive behavior’ to adversaries engaged in defensive policies, while labeling vassal state invasions or aggression as justified, retaliatory or defensive.
A close reading of the reportage by the stable of Troika scribes over the past 2 years reveals the repeated use of vitriolic and highly charged terms in describing adversarial leaders. This prepares the reader for the one-sided, negative assessment of past, present and future policies adopted by the targeted regime.
Once the imperial states and the Troika decide on targeting a government and its leaders, all the subsequent ‘news’ is designed to present the motives of these leaders as ‘perfidious’ and the economic and social impact of their policies as ‘catastrophic’.
And whenever the ‘Troika’s’ analyses or predictions or prognostications turned out to be blatantly wrong – there are never corrections. Brazen lies are glossed over with nary a ripple in their smooth fabric of propaganda.
Once a government is designated as ‘enemy’ (ripe for ‘regime change’), the Troika recycles the same hostile messages almost daily. The readers, upon viewing Troika headlines, already know at least three quarters of the content of the ‘article’. A small portion of a report may refer tangentially to some particular event or policy decision for which the diatribe launched.
Working hand-in-hand with Western imperial regimes, the Troika targets the same regimes, using the exact same terms dished out by imperial policy spokesmen and women.
In this essay, we will discuss the main regimes and policies targeted by the Troika and its Western imperial state partners. We will then proceed to evaluate Troika facts, interpretations and their track record from the beginning of the onslaught to the present. We will conclude by examining the conversion of the mainstream ‘serious’ financial press into a triumvirate of tub-thumping warmongers.
The Troika’s Targeted Regimes: Trumpeting Their Sins and Denying Their Successes
The Troika’s propaganda war not only converges with the imperial states’ destabilization policies (‘regime change’) but also is aimed at specific policies and agreements among supposed allies, partners and even vassal states.
The intensity of vitriol and the frequency of hostile articles vary according to the level of conflict between the imperial regime and its target for ‘regime change’. The greater the conflict the more violent the language.
We find intense Troika hostility, in the form of frequent, hysterical attacks, directed against Russia, China, Venezuela, Argentina and Palestine. Even any suspected ‘deviations’ by vassals, like Chile or Brazil, in the form of popular domestic social legislations, are subjected to stern scolding and warnings of dire consequences.
The Troika Maligns Russia
The Troika’s attacks vary to some degree with each target. In the case of Russia, the Troika routinely denounces President Vladimir Putin as an authoritarian ruler who has undermined Russian democracy. They claim Russia’s economy is in crisis and facing imminent collapse. They vilify Russia’s military assistance to the Syrian government of Bashar Assad. They question the viability of Russia’s military treaties and economic agreements with China. In sum, the Troika portrays Russia as a once peaceful, democratic law-abiding country (during the kleptocratic years of Boris Yeltsin in the 1990’s), which has been taken over by former secret KGB officials who have embarked on reckless overseas military adventures, while repressing their own ethnic Muslim populations (in Chechnya and Dagestan) and which is being run into the ground because of mismanagement and Western economic sanctions. They never bother to explain why the ‘authoritarian’ Putin maintains a consistently high citizen approval despite the Troika’s litany of evils…
Troika-Backed Ukrainian Puppet Secures 1% Approval:
In December 2013, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, the foul mouth diplomat, puppet dominatrix and austerity zealot, bragged that Washington had poured $5 billion dollars into Ukraine in order to pursue ‘regime change ‘and install a puppet regime headed by President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister (‘Our Man Yats’) Arseniy Yatsenyuk as Prime Minister. Obedient to his Western sponsors and the Troika, Yatsenyuk proceeded to sign off on an IMF bailout and austerity program slashing salaries and pensions of Ukrainian citizens by half, reducing GNP by 25%, ending fuel and food subsidies and tripling unemployment. These policies brought windfall profits for his billionaire crony capitalists and intensified corruption. The Troika labelled the Nuland’s putsch a ‘democratic revolution’, applauding Yastenyuk for vigorously applying the IMF dictated program and predicted a prosperous future…
As discontent spread and anger mounted among Ukrainian citizens, Yatsenyuk continued to feed his own ego by reading the Troika’s puff-piece editorials lauding his courage for staying the course of austerity and ignoring his compatriots’ opinion polls, up until the October 25, 2015 elections.
As the elections neared, opinion polls revealed that 99% of the electorate (which excluded millions of restive citizens of the Donbas region) completely rejected Arseniy (now known as ‘Nuland’s arsehole’) Yatsenyuk. Faced with the universal rejection of his starvation policies and crony capitalism, he withdrew his party (the Popular (sic) Front) from the election, but not from the ‘democratic’ government…
For two years the Troika had praised the Kiev junta, fabricating ‘reports’ about Kiev’s positive economic ‘reforms’ ….which had benefited the 1% corrupt oligarchs while impoverishing the masses. The Western propaganda mills systematically distorted popular reaction among the Ukrainian citizens, citing imaginary ‘anonymous experts’ and phantom ‘men in the street’ in praise of the debacle. Never had the Troika engaged in such blatantly deceptive ‘journalism’ as its account of the two years of pillage and mass immiseration under Prime Minister Yatsenyuk. And when ‘Yats’ was faced with total repudiation, he blithely dismissed Ukrainian public opinion, claiming he was ‘not concerned by temporary (sic) political party ratings’. His indifference with an electoral repudiation of 99% is rooted in a delusion that he will remain Prime Minister because he is widely praised by the EU, the US, the IMF … and the media Troika.
The Troika and China: Here Comes the Crash . . .?
In its ‘journalistic pivot to Asia’, the Troika deprecates China’s high-growth economy by questioning its data and by repeatedly predicting the impending crisis, breakdown and mass disaffection.
The Troika describes China’s defense policy as a ‘military threat to its neighbors’ and labels its overseas trade and investment policies as ‘neo-colonial exploitation’.
China’s national campaign against corruption and its prosecution of corrupt officials is dismissed by the Troika as a ‘political purge by a power-hungry president’.
The Troika attributes Chinese advances in science and technology as mere ‘cyber-theft of Western innovations’.
The movement of Chinese workers (internal migration) to areas with better paying jobs and investments is called ‘colonization’.
The Chinese government’s response to terrorism and armed separatists from Tibet and the Western Uighur regions is denounced as “Beijing’s systematic violation of the human rights of minorities”.
The Troika Castigates Capitalist Argentina (for a Decade of Growth)
Argentina has been on the Troika’s radar for a decade, despite the fact that it has a center-left government, which rescued capitalism from a total collapse (the Crisis of 1998-2002) restoring the growth of profits. Multi-nationals, like Monsanto and Chevron, enjoy huge returns on their investments in Argentina.
The Troika denounces the government for running up budget deficits while ignoring the impact of a Manhattan court judgement to award a group of Wall Street ‘vulture fund’ speculators ‘interest payments’ of one-thousand percent on old pre-crisis debt.
The Troika claims the regime engages in populist excesses, which prevent large-scale inflows of investment capital.
The Troika describes the recent slowdown in the economy as a ‘deep crisis’, which requires ‘deep structural changes’ (namely the elimination of social funding for pensioners, low income wage earners and school children).
The Troika paints a catastrophic picture of Argentina: a decaying economy run by a demagogic political leadership engaged in falsifying data…to mask an imminent collapse…
Troika and its ‘Hate Venezuela’ Campaign
The Troika’s journalists and editorial writers, portray Venezuela as an unmitigated disaster: a stagnant and collapsing economy, ruined by an authoritarian populist regime repressing peaceful opposition dissenters.
According to the Troika, Venezuela is incapable of providing basic goods to consumers. Instead it resorts to draconian confiscation of goods from honest businesses – unjustly accused of hoarding and profiteering. The daily reality of manufactured ‘shortages’ is consistently ignored.
When the Venezuelan government attempts to stop violent cross border raids by Colombian paramilitary gangs and smugglers it is denounced as arbitrarily repressing Colombian immigrants.
When Caracas arrests opposition leaders because of their well-documented involvement in violent street demonstrations, promoting the sabotage of power plants and clinics and for planning coups, they are portrayed as violating the ‘human rights of legitimate dissidents.’.
The Troika never mentions the tens of millions of US dollars provided by Washington to opposition NGOs to pursue its destabilization campaign against Venezuela. It labels US-funded opposition NGO’s as “independent civil society organizations” (just like Ukraine before the putsch).
For almost 2 decades, the Troika has praised Venezuelan opposition groups as formidable critics of the Chavez-Maduro government, but has never explained to their readers why such ‘formidable’ groups have been soundly defeated in 14 of the 15 elections.
The Troika and Palestine: In Defense of Israeli Terror
In its Middle East coverage, the Troika consistently depicts the Palestinians as violent terrorists and aggressors while describing Israelis as their victims. According to the Troika, the Israeli army is engaged in justifiable ‘reprisals’ when they bomb and slaughter Palestinian civilians trapped in Gaza. The endless dispossession of Palestinians of their homes, farms and rights and the violent settler occupation by Israeli Jewish colonists is presented as the just settlement of Jews escaping persecution.
No mention or little importance is given to:
- Israeli-Jewish desecration of Islamic and Christian religious sites;
- Israeli systematic terror and mass jailing of peaceful protesters.
Palestinian resistance is described as ‘incendiary, irrational violence’.
The Troika journalists produce ‘articles’ which are virtually indistinguishable from the press handouts of the Zionist Power Configuration in the US. The Troika even chastises their partner US-EU regimes for their bland criticism or expression of shock at Israel’s most egregious crimes.
The Troika echoes Israeli and Zionist attacks on international tribunals charging Israeli officials with crimes against humanity. The Troika claims they lack ‘balance’.
The Troika and Syria: Armchair Generals
The Troika has demonized the Syrian government of Bashar Assad while backing jihadi terrorists dubbed ‘rebels or ‘moderates’. It has long argued for greater direct military intervention by NATO armies to overthrow the government in Damascus.
The Troika, masquerading as an independent ‘financial press’ publishes scores of articles by dozens of ‘armchair generals’ who concoct military strategies against Damascus while ignoring heavy economic costs, the social catastrophe of 4 million internal and external Syrian war refugees and the grave consequences of the splitting up a once-unified secular nation-state.
The Troika and Wayward Neo-Liberals
The Troika even chastises states and governments which have adopted ‘free market policies’ but maintained or introduced moderate social palliatives. For example, the Chilean regime of Michelle Bachelet fell victim to Troika criticism for promoting a mild increase in corporate taxes and implementing trade union legislation allowing for greater workers’ rights. According to the Troika, these mild reforms have led to economic stagnation, a decline in investment and greater social polarization.
Evaluation: Unmasking the Troika’s Distortions, Fabrications and Falsifications
The Troika’s ‘journalism and editorializing’ on Russia has totally distorted its recent political and economic history. Like all confidence men, Troika journalists and editors mix a few threads of facts with patent falsehoods, magnifying defects and minimizing achievements, ignoring positive long-term trends and emphasizing episodic negatives.
The Troika’s accounts of Russia’s recent military and diplomatic assistance to the Syrian government’s struggle against Islamist terrorists, ignores the achievement in reversing IS advances and stabilizing the central government.
The Troika paints a specter of Great Russian geopolitical expansion and ignores the long-standing political partnerships and alliances between Russia and major countries in the region, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
With matters ‘economic’, the Troika describes the ‘catastrophic’ impact of US-EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, while ignoring the positive long-term results for Russia’s economy –greater self-reliance and investment in manufacturing and agriculture as a stimulus to local producers and the emergence of alternative overseas suppliers and markets, especially China and Iran.
The Troika highlights Russia’s two-year recession while ignoring a decade and a half of substantial growth after the catastrophic ‘Yeltsin’ years.
The Troika falsifies past and present political developments. They discretely praise the Western-backed violent gangster-oligarchs who ruled Russia during the pillage years of the 1990’s as a democracy while denouncing the relatively peaceful and competitive elections under the Putin Presidency as ‘authoritarian’.
The Troika resorts to similar propaganda ploys with China. Any slowdown from China’s three decades of double digit growth gets spun as an imminent collapse, ignoring the fact that the US-European business community can only dream of China’s still robust growth rate of 7%.
The allegations of Chinese cyber theft of Western science and technology ignore the obvious fact that China’s enormous public investment in basic and applied science and technology in dozens of centers of excellence has produced stunning achievements and levels of scholarship. A review of the international scientific literature and journals – paints an entirely different picture of Chinese advances from that described by the Troika.
Chinese economic growth through seaborne exports requires major investment and commitment to its maritime routes and security. To counter Chinese growth and assert US supremacy, Washington has signed new, provocative military pacts with Japan, Australia and the Philippines and escalated the intrusion of its planes and ships into Chinese waters and airspace. The Troika labels China’s defense of its waterways as an “aggressive” military threat to its regional neighbors, while US military investments in bases in Asia and constant intelligence gathering exceed Beijing’s five- fold. US warships brazenly violate China’s 12 mile maritime boundary.
Troika scribes completely ignore the recent history of US and Japanese empires invading dozens of Asian countries, establishing colonies, and killing scores of millions of people. In contrast to the enormous US strategic ring of military bases and communications outposts throughout the Asia-Pacific region, China has no foreign bases or overseas troops – a fact one will never learn from the ‘Troika’
The Troika’s campaign against Argentina, permeating its pages, minimizes the role of a short-term contemporary slow-down in international demand for commodities and attributes Argentina’s problems to its welfare programs, capital controls and state regulation. The Troika fails to acknowledge the past decade of growth, prosperity and rising living standards among the people in Argentina.
The source of Argentine stagnation is not because of a lack of free market policies but the Fernandez regime’s accommodation and promotion of the interests of international bankers, virtually all foreign debt holders (except one notorious ‘vulture’!) and extractive capitalists (agribusiness, Monsanto, Barrack Gold etc.).
The Troika ignores ‘the decade of infamy’ – the 1990’s – during which Argentina served as a bargain bazaar for the privatization of lucrative public enterprises and eventually collapsed in the 2001 crash with major bank closings, one hundred thousand bankruptcies and five million unemployed (30% of the labor force) – a thoroughly pillaged economy. Instead the Troika fabricates an ideal world of past free market prosperity in order to condemn contemporary Argentine, ignoring the real historical record of a liberal debacle and Keynesian recovery.
Venezuela is currently in a severe crisis, as the Troika scribes remind us in their shrill reports – blaming it entirely on ‘populist’ (i.e. public spending on social welfare) and ‘nationalist’ policies.
The Troika ignores the well-documented sabotage by the importers and distributers in the private business community, hoarding, excess profiteering and currency speculation. These problems are exacerbated by the sharp decline of oil revenues resulting from international market forces, and not merely government mismanagement.
The Troika tells their readers that the Chavez and Maduro governments are authoritarian, ignoring the dozen and a half free and competitive elections since Chavez’ ascent to power. Moreover, the Troika has remained rather quiet over their verbally violent editorial support for the opposition business-led and US embassy-backed military coup in 2002 and an aborted coup in 2014.
The Troika: the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Financial Times have repeatedly made false prognoses regarding the economic performances of governments targeted for ‘regime change’. Their economic predictions were repeatedly wrong and their readers among the investor public would have lost their shirts if they had taken their cues from the Troika’s editorial pages and bet ‘short’ against China and the rest…
Their perverse denunciations of Russian and Chinese military defense activities are sharpening world tensions. Their support for ethnic separatists in the Russian Caucuses and western China has encouraged acts of terrorism leading to the deaths of hundreds of Chinese workers murdered by Uighur and Tibetan terrorists, hundreds of Russians at hands of Chechen terrorists and thousands of Russian-speakers in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
The Troika cannot be relied on for reliable information, especially regarding the economic, political and foreign policies of US and EU adversaries (those targets for ‘Regime change’).
At most their polemical screeds give the discerning reader an insight into the propaganda line promoted by the Western powers.
Moreover in recent times, the Troika has become even more strident and militaristic than the ruling elites. The Troika’s armchair generals mocked Obama for not sending ground troops into Syria; chastised the US and EU for signing the nuclear agreements with Iran; and embraced Israel’s systematic murder of Palestinians.
Unreliable and more given to strident invective than reporting the facts in a balanced way, the Troika has lost credibility for intelligent, serious readers who strain to ‘read between the lines’ when they write that a government is ‘unpopular’ during elections. More likely than not, the incumbents sweep the elections and retain popular majorities as has been the case so far in Russia, Argentina, Venezuela and elsewhere.
If and when the Troika succeeds in promoting more wars, as it has been doing in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, each and every militaristic adventure will lead to economic and social disasters spawning millions more refugees.
When imperial governments, like England, adopt conciliatory policies toward China, eschewing zero sum confrontations, in favor of win-win cooperation, the Troika’s armchair generals are sure to mock and accuse the conservative government of ‘kowtowing’ to authoritarians – dismissing the $30 billion dollar investment deals.
The Troika has gone far beyond its earlier role of presenting the line of imperial regimes. They now march, rather independently, to the military drum of real and imagined nuclear warriors and terrorists. Welcome to the “free press” and the ‘lies of our Times’!