Observations of an American journalist in Azerbaijan, Russia and USA.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The New Face of Fascism
While the news yesterday was of the ceasefire in Georgia, the news today was of ceasefire violations. I had lunch with a journalist today who was talking about how the city of Gori continues to be held by Russians, despite the pledge of the Russians to return to their previous lines. When I listened to the BBC later in the day, I heard confirmation of this report, with a journalist on the scene describing tanks still in the town, while South Ossetian forces looted the city.
The Azerbaijanis I’ve spoken to here are not comforted or mollified by the ceasefire. Anger against the Russians runs high. I’ve included a photo of the front page of today’s Zerkalo, one of the leading independent newspapers in Baku. The headline reads “The New Face of Fascism.” The subtitle roughly reads “Putin’s Russia very painfully reminds one of Germany in the 1930s.” The article begins with a discussion of Nazi Propaganda Chief Joseph Goebbels injunction that people will believe lies if they are big enough and told often enough. (Actually, the article misstates Goebbels original quote, which can be found here.)
(Actually, the Goebbels quote is quite interesting, bringing into sharp contrast the needs of the state and the needs of humanity. The last part of the quote is “ …for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Goebbels was a sociopath, but he makes an interesting point. Truth is the enemy of the state. There's something to chew on.)
I’ll spare you a translation of the whole article in Zerkalo, which is long and freely mixes “analysis” with news. But one of the main points is that the announcement of the ceasefire is itself a lie. Also, the author says that the Russian claims not to be seeking regime change in Georgia are false. And finally, the article argues with the Russian claims about the thousands of civilians killed in the assault by the Georgian military.
A number of articles about the conflict are found on the other pages of the newspaper. Here are some of the headlines: “Russia needs a wide-scale war on the Southern Caucasus.” “Russians recommend that Azerbaijan not make sudden movements” The text of the articles conveys generally the sense that while the incursion of Russian forces occurred in Georgia, its shock is quite clearly felt here in Azerbaijan.
You have to remember that Zerkalo is a Russian language newspaper. I'm not sure exactly what the Azerbaijani newspapers are saying today - but day.az, an Internet news portals that carries its news in English, Azerbaijani and Russian, has articles with similar viewpoints. One of the articles on the site today has the headline: "Russia may use Karabakh the way it used South Ossetia." Another article is headlined "The visit card of Russia's external policy are (sic) military actions against other countries."