Response to Articles in Sunday Times - Scepticism is Not Treason
There is a climate descending on us where any attempt to understand Russia or her government is depicted as proof of membership of a Kremlin espionage network, and any criticism of the US led position on Syria is seen almost as treason.
If the official stance on Syria and Russia is even compared with, or seen as a continuation of, the Blair policy on Iraq and of Camerons actions in Libya, and if you fail to forget that the Euro-Maidan was at least encouraged by, if not initiated by, the US and EU, then you must be denounced and discredited.
It is in this context that the articles in 30th October,s Sunday Times must be read.
The levels of anti-Russian, and not just anti-Putin, propaganda have been building up in recent years and are now at quite ridiculous, quite hysterical and quite dangerous levels.
it is like the Cold War - but the sides have changed.
Even rather serious journalists write as if enmity against Russia was a given, that Vladimir Putin must be next on the list that started with Saddam Hussein and included Mumar Ghadaffi.
Even in the House of Commons, MPs, MPs who have never worn a uniform, have called for no-fly zones in Syria and that these should be maintained even by shooting down Russian aeroplanes. That is to say, burning to death young Russian men. That is to say, British servemen (if not cities) also reduced to cinders.
Is this not irresponsible? Where do they think this will end? Do they imagine that Russia is some defenceless African tribe or some despot equipped only with obsolete US weapons? Do they imagine that Putin and Lavrov, not they, are stupid ones? Have they no memory?
Questioning the wisdom of a policy that originated don't know where and arrived from the USA is not unpatriotic. This is not a game.
Doubting the wisdom of policies that are almost universally recognised as being catastrophic is not a breach of academic or journalistic ethics - it is a failure to doubt that is the offence. And yet we are being urged, quite emphatically, to shut up with our doubts.
The Sunday Times article says that "unlike Soviet-era propaganda, Russia's new purpose is not really to convince us that it is superior but to persuade a generation schooled in cultural relativism that the West is just as bad." Gosh! Jesus taught us to take the plank from our own eye before we took the speck from our brother's eye. To follow our saviour's words is not morale relativism. I once promised to tell the truth. That is not cultural relativism. To scrutinise our own leaders, to hold our own politicians to account is the democratic duty, our obligation. To be blind to their faults, to our own fault, but just to sneer at those over whom we have no influence is just plain wrong no matter what.
If we look into ourselves, for our own sins and failings, we should not be denounced because we were not then cursing others as the devil. It is our own badness that is our prime concern -especially in a democracy.
Remembering and understanding the West's role in lighting the current inferno in the Lavant our duty - it is not fawning over Putin.
The propagnada is getting to be much too much for many people. Old men comment that they are getting us ready for war. And this must be our fear.
We made a film: Someone Had Blunder'd. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUq-N8GXvCA). It was a film that did not label itself as a Christian film, but took as its starting point what we consider to be conventional morality when looking at a situation of developing conflict. It was a film in which Bruges Group people, people of the Thatcherite right, considered the developing crisis in Ukraine. We announced at the beginning that this was an attempt to understand other people's perspectives, hopes and fears, but it was from a standpoint of British interest.
It took nine days during which Robert's wife could not use her kitchen table because it was used for video editing.
It made an impact but did not change the world. What was coming out of the British state broadcaster did not match many people's understanding of reality. We asked around and others felt equally ill at ease.
"We must do something, say something", I said to Robert.
"But how will we know what to say? All we have in the media is ill-informed comment and messages from people with, what are now, war-aims.", he replied.
"I suppose The Bruges Group has a responsibility to have some idea what it is talking about . After all, we are supposed to be a think tank: we are not mere journalists not just politicians."
"Well, we have one side of this from the BBC - we know the line from Brussels and Kiev", said Robert, "How will we find out the position of Moscow and that of Donetsk?"
"There is only one thing to do, we will have to go to Moscow and then to Donetsk and find out for ourselves. We know what one lot want us to think, let's go and ask the other lot what they want us to think.", I said. "Are there any of those invitations they send out to journalists to go on one of those information trips? - it cannot just be Brussels who does those."
"You mean go to a war zone with a bunch of dodgy Russians we have never heard of, in a country where we do not speak the lingo and where the FCO say not to even look at it on google-earth let alone go there?"
"Yes. What could possibly go wrong?"
My own concerns were almost entirely for the success of the mission but I did have some small thoughts for my own safety. Wandering around Moscow totally unaided was alright, surely it would just be like Lasnamae but bigger. But in Donetsk I really wanted to be as close to the government as possible. I wanted armed guards and bullet-proof buses. We knew they would show us what they wanted us to see but that was understood. We had the BBC side, we wanted their side, We knew it would only be their side.
It was between our Easter and theirs.
It was just before the commemoration of 70 years since the end of the War. Both were taken more seriously there.
We made some reports, offered some raw material for journalists. One of these was an interview with the then Foreign Minister, Alexander Koffman. And yes he is, as Andrew Gilligan points out, a bearded, balding Jew. It is an interview worth watching even today because he explains the DPR position and it is fifficult to see how any fool could fail to make some progress in peace-talks with him. Watch it. (http://calgacus.co.uk/articles/21/donetsk---our-interview-with-a)
We were now equipped. If you look for anything approximating to the truth, you have to read between the lines.
We now had both lines. Well, three lines: 1, BBC/EU,2, Moscow and ,3, Donetsk.
For this humble knowledge we have been denounced in the national media, in The Sunday Times. And by a journalist who made his own name by exposing a truth hidden from the British public so that they could be tricked into war.
The Bruges Group has never received a single Kopek from any Russian body.
Should we hush ourselves, or what? Tell us. But I think you know this is not up for a vote.