Friday, August 15, 2008


Olga Ivanova writes in today's The Washington Post how the American media seem to take Georgia's side in its conflict with Russia. I totally agree. My impression from reading The New York Times and The Washington Post is that reporters omit mentioning that this whole bloody conflict was started by Georgia under president Mikheil Saakashvili when he ordered Georgian army to shell civilians, mostly Russians, in South Ossetia.

The TV news reports are even more one-sided. ABC, CBS and NBC all seem to make this out to be a pure case of Russian aggression against democracy in a small defenseless nation. Has Charles Gibson ever included the fact that Georgia started the war by attacking civilians and killing up to 2,000?

Ivanova writes:

"American newspapers have run story after story about how "evil" Russia invaded a sovereign neighboring state. Many accounts made it seem as though the conflict was started by an aggressive Russia invading the Georgian territory of South Ossetia. Some said that South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali, was destroyed by the Russian army. Little attention was paid to the chronology of events, the facts underlying the conflict.

"Last week, Georgia's president invaded South Ossetia during the night, much as Adolf Hitler invaded Russia in 1941. Within hours, Georgian troops destroyed Tskhinvali, a city of 100,000, and they killed more than 2,000 civilians. Almost all of the people who died that night were Russian citizens. They chose to become citizens of Russia years ago, when Georgia refused to recognize South Ossetia as a non-Georgian territory.

"The truth is that, in this case, Russian aggression actually made some sense. Russia defended its citizens."

But Ivanova notes as I have above that hardly any stories in the American press or TV mention that Russia acted to protect its citizens from the missiles raining down on civilians in South Ossetia. Bush portrays Saakashvili and Georgia as the bastion of democratic government in eastern Europe, but this can hardly be true, given their attitude to people in Ossetia who would rather be Russian than Georgian. Instead of bombing and shooting them, has Saakashvili together with his nationalistic Georgians ever thought of allowing the Ossetians to vote in a free referendum on which country they wish to join?

Ivanova notes:

"Yet American newspapers published stories that omitted mention of the Georgian invasion. And American media as a whole have been disturbingly pro-Georgian. The lead photograph on the front page of Sunday's Post showed two men -- one dead, the other crying -- amid ruins in Gori, Georgia. Many other images could have been used. Monday's Wall Street Journal, for example, contained several stories about the conflict and even an op-ed by Saakashvili. Where was the Russian response?"

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