Of late, RT’s “CrossTalk” has often become more of a show where everyone pretty much agrees with each other. “CrossTalk” typically features three guests and a host. On “CrossTalk”, the likes of Ariel Cohen, Anders Aslund and Taras Kuzio have been outnumbered. This situation has perhaps influenced some people with their views to not appear on that show. The “CrossTalk” preference is a reversal to the favoritism that’s frequently given to these commentators (and others with the same takes) in Western mass media. In numerous comparative instances, “CrossTalk” isn’t less objective.
I find this matter to be regretful, despite my not being in general agreement with A. Cohen, Aslund and Kuzio and opposition to much of the 24/7 Western mass media TV coverage of former Communist bloc issues. The aforementioned three individuals can be successfully refuted without stacking the cards against them, in a way that can be (and has been) propagandistically used against RT.
In contrast, the not as well known RT show, “Worlds Apart”, has one-on-one situations between the host and guest. It’s not uncommon to see fundamental differences between the two.
RT has other shows which deal with the issues discussed on “CrossTalk” and “Worlds Apart”. IMO, RT will qualitatively improve its standing with a relatively objective show, that will regularly and simultaneously feature competent guests, with fundamentally different points of view from each other. On former Communist bloc issues, (as well as some other topics), this kind of an approach is frequently lacking among the leading 24/7 Western mass media TV networks.
The following are my responses to some recent “Worlds Apart” shows.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Kenneth Roth, said that Russian mass media cherry picks the reports of his organization. In turn, the RT “Worlds Apart” host Oksana Boyko, noted Roth making a political statement on that score.
It’s fair to say that selective emphasis is a worldwide occurrence of varied biases. Roth isn’t keen on speaking out against the MANY instances of faulty US mass media coverage against Russia. One of many cases in point, is the one-sided December 21, CNN/GPS panel discussion. In comparison, the above linked RT show gave Roth ample time to express his views, which go against the slant of RT.
HRW made it a point to openly oppose the detention of the Pussy Riot exhibitionists, who disrespectfully violated the sanctity of a Moscow church, which had previously experienced a repressive anti-religious act in the 1930s. Concerning humanitarian stands with global implications, I’m not aware of HRW criticizing the governments of the US, Canada and Ukraine for being the only countries to have voted against a proposed and passed UN resolution, denouncing the glorification of Nazism. The UN document in question makes no specific reference to any one country. Therefore, the attempt of any human rights advocate to excuse the US, Canadian and Ukrainian votes on this particular seem to be especially flawed. BTW, this news item was very much downplayed in Western mass media.
The above linked show ended with an exchange about Crimea. Roth’s geopolitical subjectivity is exhibited in how he portrayed a Ukrainian territory suddenly becoming a part of Russia, with an armed occupying force supporting this move. Omitted is what led to that change, along with that force not being so foreign to the land in question.
The coup in Kiev against a democratically elected president, followed by a series of increased anti-Russian actions, triggered Crimea’s changed territorial status. There are also the matters of Kosovo and northern Cyprus, which have some comparative relationship with Crimea. Does Roth characterize an “occupying force” in Kosovo, dominated by countries that have supported the drive for that region’s independence, in contradiction to the still active UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the preference of Serbia?
There’s much more to the Kosovo-Crimea comparison, which includes the issue of which of the two have the best historical and human rights cases for a changed territorial status? Crimea has a lengthy past with Russia. The desire for Kosovo’s designation as an entity unto itself is a more recent development. The repackaged KLA in Kosovo doesn’t come across as having a greater moral fiber than the Crimean body politic.
Michael O’Hanlon’s contestable views were given a longer leash, when compared to what his reasoned geopolitical opposites could expect on a good number of US mass media TV news shows. He expressed his opinion that Putin isn’t a good option as Russian president. O’Hanlon’s overall takes on Russia and some other topics are arguably less constructive.
Boyko noted that the main political forces associated with the post-Yanukovych Kiev regime were on record to favor ditching the Russian-Ukrainian lease agreement for Russia’s naval presence in Crimea. Within reason, O’Hanlon said that this matter could’ve been worked out, without changing Crimea’s territorial status. On this issue, why should Russia be so trustful, given how anti-Yanukovych Kiev situated forces ditched the Feb 21 accord they signed, followed by a series of increased anti-Russian actions? The protestation over Crimea’s changed status looks hypocritically absurd, when the pro-Russian majority in Crimea, along with the Kosovo and northern Cyprus situations are added to the precarious developments in Kiev.
On that last point, O’Hanlon described Yanukovych as leaving office, while downplaying the coup-like circumstances involved with that move. At times, the “rule of law” advocacy has limits. Neocon, neolibs and flat out Russia haters expect the Kremlin and pro-Russian elements in Ukraine to be flexible by recognizing the post-Yanukovych Kiev regimes. Flexibility is lacking elsewhere, as exhibited by the righteous indignation being expressed over Crimea’s changed territorial status.
O’Hanlon confidently emphasized his overly subjective and inaccurate depiction of the wars in 1990s former Yugoslavia. He finds fault with Russia for not being so agreeable with the Clinton administration policy on that topic. For O’Hanlon, Milosevic is the “monster”, while saying NOTHING about the otherwise noticeable faulty mass killing/hate mongering related aspects associated with Tudjman, Izetbegovic and Thaci. The record shows that some key neolib/neocon claims on former Yugoslavia (like the actual war related death toll in Bosnia) were quite inaccurate. (The bias against Russia and Serbia is discussed in my Global Research article of this past July 23 “Twisted History Against Russia and Serbia“.)
O’Hanlon and Boyko suggested that O’Hanlon’s recent coauthored Washington Post article (with Jeremy Shapiro), is a shining change from the Beltway establishment. In actuality, his piece underscores the limited substantive analysis among that grouping.
O’Hanlon’s suggestion of a partitioned Crimea comes across as a hypocritical idea. He didn’t advocate a partition of Kosovo or Ukraine (not including Crimea).
RT initially promoted this show with Andrew Kuchins expressing the belief that Victoria Nuland probably should have been canned by the Obama administration. Has Kuchins ever expressed this view elsewhere?
On this show, Kuchins erroneously blamed then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych for pursuing a zero sum game (Russia or the EU) stance on Ukraine’s foreign and economic policies. In reality, Yanukovych sought a fairer EU Association Agreement for Ukraine, while seeking to maintain mutually beneficial close ties between Russia and Ukraine. Under his presidency, Ukraine didn’t recognize the Russian led independence recognitions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He also didn’t commit Ukraine to the Russian involved Customs Union/Eurasian Union. Prior to Yanukovych’s ouster, it was the EU and US (not Russia and Ukraine) which pursued the zero sum game stance on Ukraine’s economic development.
Kuchins went on to say that the Feb 21 accord signed by Yanukovych, his main opposition and some Western officials, was unrealistic from its inception; because the Euromaidan protestors would oppose that agreement for leaving Yanukovych in office for the remainder of 2014. When expressing this thought, Kuchins gave no acknowledgement to the counter-Euromaidan perspective in Ukraine and the fact that Yanukovych was the democratically elected president. Just how reasonable was it for the counter-Euromaidan side to readily accept the disproportionate number of nationalist anti-Russian leaning Svoboda members in the Kiev regime which overthrew Yanukovych? (Svoboda’s declined role in the current Kiev regime has been somewhat offset by others, who in one form or another have taken nationalist anti-Russian stances.)
Kuchins has exhibited the position of American neocon to neolib foreign policy advocacy, by presenting Russia as a country having a bout of extreme nationalism (more like reasoned patriotism) and (at the same time) being relatively mute on the nationalist anti-Russian tilt that has been associated with the Euromaidan side.
A related piece:
“Kuchins has been to about five meetings and says attending this year will help maintain a dialogue while government ties are strained. He acknowledges that the event is part of the Kremlin’s public relations campaign.
‘I have pretty strongly held views about Mr. Putin and I’ve certainly never shied away from criticizing him and his government, sometimes in quite brutal ways, and yet I’m still invited,’ he said by phone. ‘That’s really very rare, frankly, for a major world leader to meet a group of so-called experts, journalists in a pretty intimate gathering as Mr. Putin generally does for these meetings’.”
An academic acquaintance noted how some can further bolster their comments against Russia and Putin by highlighting their Valdai Discussion Club appearance.
Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic.