Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

April 1, 2014

LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines

By Ted Braun
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.

On March 8 a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 jet, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard, suddenly disappeared. Since then no trace of it has been found. Recognizing the crucial importance of finding answers to the “what happened” and “why” questions (both for airlines and for the grieving families), a number of nations have sent search planes and ships to hunt for any fragments that might have come from the plane. This is a difficult challenge given the amount of debris traveling the surface of our oceans (debris from typhoon and nuclear reactor damage in Japan has even reached the coast of California).

Meanwhile, some of our media (such as CNN) have been trying to fill the void by focusing on various hypotheses: equipment malfunction, pilot error, terrorist plot, etc. A Canadian pilot suspects that it may have been an electrical problem (such as a fire) that incapacitated the crew. The major challenge for us, however, is the lack of a narrative that would provide insight and understanding. Unfortunately, such a narrative won’t be possible until we find the plane’s black box.

The second important overseas event is Crimea’s separation from the Ukraine and its vote on March 16 to rejoin the Russian Federation (83 percent of Crimea’s eligible voters voted by 97 percent to secede from the Ukraine and join Russia). Here we do have a helpful narrative to recall, but it’s not one that has been publicized by our government or major media because it differs from the one chosen for propaganda purposes—one that blames and demonizes Russia and President Putin.

This narrative mentions our nation’s efforts to encircle Russia with NATO missile sites, a goal of the neoconservative elements strongly ensconced in the foreign relations section of our government. This effort has betrayed a commitment that Secretary of State James Baker gave to Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in 1990 that the U.S. would not place U.S. military forces in East Europe in the wake of the Soviet military withdrawal from Germany. Since then the U.S. has sponsored the entry of eight former Warsaw Pact members and three former Soviet republics into NATO to further encircle and threaten Russia.

More recently, the U.S. State Department, in its efforts against Russia, has assumed the control and distribution of the prime funding sources for “democracy promotion” and non-military “humanitarian intervention” (from such organizations as the Agency for International Development and National Endowment for Democracy). For example, State Department diplomats ran the recent campaign to destabilize Ukraine that resulted in a coup and a president more friendly to NATO and the U.S. corporations such as Monsanto, John Deere, DuPont, Cargill, Eli Lilly, and Chevron.

As Ray McGovern, who worked for 27 years as an intelligence analyst for the CIA, said, “It used to be the CIA doing these things. I know that for a fact. Now it’s the State Department with its coat-and-tie diplomats, Twitter and Facebook accounts, and a trick bag of goodies to build support for American policy. In this current era the diplomatic arm of the U.S. government seems to be doing less diplomacy and negotiation and more organizing of groups to disrupt and destabilize.”

In this period of great danger and enmity, as news journalist Robert Parry reminds us, it might be well to remember President John F. Kennedy’s words in his June 10, 1963 address at the American University in Washington, D.C. In that speech, Kennedy outlined the need to collaborate with Soviet leaders to avert dangerous confrontations like the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Kennedy declared that it was wrong for America to seek world dominance, and he asserted that U.S. foreign policy must be guided by a respect for the understandable interests of adversaries as well as allies:

“What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of a slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.

“I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary, rational end of rational men. I realize the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war, and frequently the words of the pursuers fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.

“For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.” 

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This column by local writers is dedicated to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world of peace and justice.  Opinions expressed in “Lion and Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff.  For more information, contact Ted Braun, column coordinator, at 277-5135.