Pravda On The Potomac-13 (What The Washington Post Wrote About Russia In January And First Half Of February 2010)

Two articles published in the Post in January and early February dealt with security issues.  First, Colum Lynch reported, on January 27, that the U.N. Security Council has lifted sanctions against five former Taliban officials who now say that they back the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  The decision by the Security Council came after Russia, which for years had opposed the move, finally agreed to de-list the men. 

Second, on February 3, Edward Cody described a nervous reaction in some quarters to the plan by France to sell to Russia a Mistral-class amphibious assault ship.  According to Cody's piece, six Republican senators, including John McCain, complained to the French ambassador in Washington that the planned sale "would suggest that France approves of Russia's conduct" which McCain & Co. described as "increasingly aggressive and illegal."  

The good news for January was that Philip Pan resurfaced  — with a January 18 article on the results of the 1st round of the Ukraine presidential election.  The bad news was that like a quarterback who missed a few games due to injury, Pan was rusty and didn't come up with anything more than was already reported by wire services.  Continuing the theme on February 7, Pan demonstrated that his injury had, unfortunately, a sustained character.  Otherwise, it's difficult to interpret his assertion that the problems having plagued the Orange Revolution and its leadership can be explained by the inability of the United States to sufficiently support "Ukraine's fledging democracy."  Wrapping up the election coverage on February 8, the day after the 2nd round of the vote, Pan described Yanukovych's win as a "gratifying victory for Moscow."

Pan's desire to portray the presidential election in Ukraine as another epic battle between "authoritarian" Russia and the "democratic" West seems to have full support of the Post's editorial board.  But the February 9 editorial goes even further: the Post refuses to acknowledge that Ukrainian voters have totally rejected (twice!) the fallacy of the Orange Revolution.  To the Post's editors, "the Orange Revolution lives on", but — fasten your seat belts — needs "plenty of support and nurturing in the next few years."  I guess, this is what doctors call delusion: "a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact."

Rushing to present her take on the events in Kiev, Anne Applebaum informed us, on February 9, that "[T]he most striking thing about this Ukrainian presidential election is that we genuinely did not know who would win."  We who?  Analysts and pollsters predicted the outcome of both rounds of the election with remarkable precision.  Perhaps Applebaum was simply too busy on her trip to India (where she still found inspiration to observe that "Russian patriotism…often takes on a neo-imperialist tinge.  Russian leaders, expressing a self-confidence born of oil wealth, indulge in saber-rattling and sometimes physical attacks on their neighbors…") that she had no time to read.  On the other hand, what difference would this make?  We live in a free country and Applebaum is entitled to her sacred right to remain genuinely ignorant.

Another Post editorial deserves to be mentioned.  On January 11, the Post opined on the oil trade negotiations between Russia and Belarus.   A couple of questions arise when reading this article.  First, the dispute between the two parties erupted on January 1 when Russia briefly cut off part of its oil supplies to Belarus (it was restored in a couple of days).  Why then did the Post's editors wait until January 11 to cover the event?  Well, the answer seems to be simple: they hoped for a sustained shutdown of oil supplies which would allow them to accuse Russia again in using energy for "blackmail and intimidation."  When this didn't happen, the Post had to go with what it had. 

The second question is why would Russia decide to "punish" Belarus as the Post wants us to believe?  Because, we're explained, Belarus refused to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  That could sound at least reasonable if not for the fact that the dispute was amicably resolved shortly after the Post boldly predicted a new "energy war."  Needless to say, no follow-up editorial has followed (even not the particularly Russia-friendly WSJ has reported about the end of the dispute). 

What was this medical thing?  Ah, here it is: a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason.

About Eugene Ivanov

Eugene Ivanov is a PMI-certified Innovation Management Consultant who helps organizations increase the efficiency of their internal and external innovation programs.
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One Response to Pravda On The Potomac-13 (What The Washington Post Wrote About Russia In January And First Half Of February 2010)

  1. Eugene Ivanov says:

    Leo,
    Thanks for paying attention to something not Olympic-related.
    As much as I’d love to get into heated discussion with you, there is no much to disagree with. Except for your comparing yourself to OK. You give the guy way TOO MUCH credit🙂
    1. Mistral — agreed. Sarkozy is rightly concerned about unemployment in France rather than about supersensitivities of New Europeans.
    2. SO/Abkhazia. I think that all in all, the recognition was a right thing to do as it provide more legitimacy, internationally speaking, than otherwise. Internally, yes, it creates a lot of problems as now Russia “owes” them.
    3. Ukraine. If you can draw a clear line between Yushchenko’s fallacy and the one of the Orange Revolution, no objections on my side. I agree with you on Tymoshenko. That’s why, IMO, Moscow was slightly in favor of her, rather than Yanukovich: Yulia reports only to herself and can be “bought.” Whom Yanukovich “reports”, isn’t quite clear to me.
    My only question for you would be with regards to your note: “…the outvoted incumbent does not have to run for his life or move assets and family abroad.” If this is allusion to another country/election🙂, could you be more specific?
    4. Your last para — agreed again. Just don’t give bad name to Pavlovian reflexes…:)
    Best Regards,
    Eugene

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