Tempest in a Russian teapot

In its striving for ratings, the mass media regularly plays to popular prejudices and misconceptions instead of digging for the less dramatic facts. The latest example is its response to Russia's takeover of Crimea - a Black Sea peninsula populated by Russians and long a part of Russia dating back to Catherine the Great (1783). The media, apparently eager to increase its popularity by re-igniting the Cold War heat of the communist era, is branding Russian president Vladimir Putin as the new Stalin bent on gobbling up the world.

This is not simply hyperbole, but an absurdity. Nation-states today gobble up nothing, since "empires" are no longer built by nations. Today's "empire" is that of global capital that controls the world, and any national contentions must be judged within this new paradigm. Beneath the noise of rattling swords and the clamor for sanctions, we read that sanctions were "targeted to minimize disruption of the global economy" (The New York Times, 3/24/14). With its fast-growing consumer market "Russia is the EU's third-biggest trading partner with goods and services worth more than $500 billion exchanged in 2012. About 75 percent of all foreign direct investment in Russia originates in EU member states" (The Nation, 3/10/14). In the above-cited NYT article we also read that "France is in the process of delivering sophisticated attack ships to the Kremlin." Some enemy!

In addition, not only does Russia supply vast amounts of energy to the EU, but European companies are heavily invested in Russian oil and gas, with BP the second largest shareholder in Rosneft, Russia's leading oil producer.

What is really happening in Ukraine is hard to tell, since the media isn't doing its job. But there are some hints. A handful of Ukrainian billionaires is trying to control the country and apparently wants to get out from under any control exerted by the billionaires of the Russian kleptocracy - aptly named, since they got their wealth by stealing what constitutionally belonged to the people at the break up of the Soviet Union.

Ukrainian "businessman" Petro Poroshenko, whose chocolate factory in Russia was closed by Russia, is the favorite to become the next Ukrainian president. So what we're really seeing in the much overblown Ukrainian issue is an internecine battle between capitalist oligarchs - a battle that has no effect on global capital, much less world peace.

Whenever a socio-political issue emerges, to understand it, look to where the money is - not to the popular media.

Andrew Torre lives in Landgrove.


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