Shanky-Ho Spin and Post-Modern Politics

Published in both of Fairfax broadsheets this morning are Op-Ed articles by John Laughland, which attempt to provide the most generous spin possible for the Yanukovich government in Ukraine.

Surprisingly this article was sourced from the Guardian, the same newspaper that published David Aaronovitch’s demolition of Laughland’s credibility, as Aaronovitch notes:

Laughland’s great strength is that he sees what no one else in the west seems to. Where reporters in Kiev, including the Guardian’s own Nick Paton-Walsh, encounter a genuine democracy movement, Laughland comes across “neo-Nazis” (Guardian), or “druggy skinheads from Lvov” (Spectator). And where most observers report serious and specific instances of electoral fraud and malpractice on the part of the supporters of the current prime minister, Laughland complains only of a systematic bias against (the presumably innocent) Mr Yanukovich.

A quick trawl establishes this to be the Laughland pattern over the past few years and concerning several countries. Laughland has variously queried the idea that human rights are a problem in Belarus, or that the Serbs behaved so very savagely in Kosovo. He has defended Slobodan Milosevic, criticised the International Tribunal in the Hague and generally argued that the problem in countries normally associated with human rights abuses is, in fact, the intervention of western agencies.

Aaronovitch goes on to trawl through Laughland’s association with the Sanders Institute, which seems to have indulged in some sort of hallucinogenic form of secret herbs and spices that has produced conspiracy theories of unrivaled absurdity. From its prediction of the US election: –

“Our bet,” he says following the results, “is that we will soon be adding an investigation into the biggest vote fraud in history.'”

To Joining in the chorus of September 11 conspiracy theorists:

“It was obvious then, and it is obvious now,” he writes, “that something besides the brilliance of a band of terrorists or the incompetence of America’s security apparatus was responsible for the disaster of 9/11.” But he doesn’t tell us what that “something” was.

Aaronovitch continues:

Sanders on America and Laughland on Ukraine, however, are not the most amazing features of Sanders Research Associates. That distinction belongs to the report on Rwanda written for Sanders by a Canadian lawyer named Chris Black. Black is the only person I have ever seen putting the word genocide in quotation marks when applied to Rwanda. Rwanda, you see, was all the US’s fault, and wasn’t carried out by Hutus in any case. It was all got up to justify US intervention in the region. He condemns the “demonising (of) the Hutu leadership”.

If it wasn’t for the effort to deflect attention away from the disgraceful behaviour of various former Soviet States, from Russia’s dominion over its former territories to large-scale human-rights violations within Belarus, living in Laughland could be excused as an absurd joke. However, when so many lives are affected this is obviously not the case. I hope Laughland and his associates enjoy their cushy contracts as apologists for post-Soviet Stalinists, Balkan war criminals and Rwandan generals. They can count themselves lucky that observers from the ‘Evil West’ would be on show to ensure their liberties were not taken away, a luxury which those in certain former Soviet territories do not similarly enjoy. I hope they enjoy working for the MINISTRY OF TRUTH, I hear the pay is good. Maybe some day they will be provided with a context-free world where they can talk of the benign world of global terrorists, if Hamas can compare themselves to Nelson Mandela, what about comparing Zarquawi with Gandhi, the Burmese junta with Jose Ramos Huerta. Come on guys if you use your imagination you could produce a “socialist realist” classic.

It goes to show no matter how disgraceful the regime there is always a certain group willing to Captain Hoar-Hoar to the highest bidder, but I bet when the despot forgets to pay the invoice, 2 Plus 2 suddenly equals 4 again.

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2024 years ago

The reds are under the bed!

Oops… not they aren’t… the terrorists are under the bed!

To be politically conservative, it seems, is to fear bearded men and people from religions that you are personally too insulated to have any appreciation for.


Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
2024 years ago

You’ve interpreted all that from my glib comment about Hamas and Zarquawi (hardly proselytisers of human rights) that I fear bearded religious men.

My post was about Laughland and how his associated chronies are willing to provide misinformation to keep some of the most persistant human-rights abusers in power. This often means pedalling the strangest stories about imperial domination (in this the old Pravda hacks would be proud), but also think recently of Mugabe, the Sudanese government, or Gbargo in Ivory Coast who have ramped up the anti-west rhetoric.

The problem is that unlike the general population, Laughland et al can go back to their comfortable homes as PR flaks for murderous regimes not having to live under the restrictive regimes of Belarus, Uzbekistan and formerly Georgia. There whole purpose is to undermine the efforts of NGOs who attempt to highlight such human-right violations. I don’t know how this sort of person can sleep at night.

2024 years ago

No no – I was referring to the propensity of people like Laughland to use the word “terrorist” or talk about a person or group’s “links to terrorism” in order to tarnish their reputation. Often when commentators do this they offer little or no justification or evidence supporting their comments.

We’re living in a world of spin a lot of the time.