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Monday, August 06, 2007

EDITORIAL: Siberian Light -- Tsk, tsk, tsk!

EDITORIAL

Siberian Light: Tsk, tsk, tsk!

Probably the single best sign in the Russia blogosphere that you have gone horribly astray is when you find that the lunatic non-blogger Mike Averko agrees with you. At that point, it's time for a major rethink and maybe a long vacation. Such was the case in a recent post from Siberian Light about the Russian attempt at imperial conquest of the Arctic.

In its post, SL claimed that Canada was being hypocritical in criticizing Russia's action to claim the sea floor beneath the polar ice cap by planting a flag there because, citing a Canadian news report, in 2005 Canada had done just the same thing in regard to an island called Hans in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. SL is entitled to its opinion, of course, but it's not entitled to its own facts upon which to defend that opinion.

Now, let's leave aside the obvious point, brought out forcefully by an SL commenter, that Hans Island is less than one square mile of territory with no energy resources, hence totally unlike the gigantic swath of territory Russia is pursuing. That's a fairly subtle point that would have required thoughtful analysis to pick up, and maybe SL was in a hurry to deliver the sensational news of Canada's evil deeds.

And let's also not make too much of the fact that SL completely ignored Russia's own blatant, outrageous hypocrisy. For years now, the Putin administration has been wailing to high heaven about "unilateral" actions by the likes of the U.S. in places such as Iraq. It's been screeching and moaning to beat the band about how unreasonable it is for the U.S. to take action without international consultation and agreement, in "cowboy" fashion. But when Russia wants something? It simply grabs, and anyone who criticizes is demented. Here again, maybe SL was pressed for time and couldn't think about this situation long enough to notice this point. Such things happen. We understand. These lapses do, of course, give SL's post the feeling of an exercise in Kremlinist propaganda (especially since SL chooses to try to negate criticism of Russia by pointing to the flaws of the critic rather than defending Russia's action on its merits, the classic tactic of the KGB and the Commisars of the Internet), and that's a pity.

Finally, let's pass over the fact that the entire world is arrayed against Russia as far as its Arctic claim is concerned, whilst the rest of the world has no idea whatsoever that such as place as Hans Island even exists. Not a single country has taken Russia's side in its Arctic imperialism (SL certainly did not point to any); but again, SL may well have bigger fish to fry than the posts it publishes, so this type of analysis may be too much to fairly expect. It is, of course, a bit odd for SL to be calling for fairness and accuracy yet dispensing none, but the world is full of odd occurrences.

Surely though, one could expect SL to have actually read the basic facts set forth in its own source material and to have reported them fairly. After all, not every reader will click through to a link and check for herself. Unfortunately, this did not occur.

The Canadian news report SL itself cited clearly states:
In 1984, Denmark's minister of Greenland affairs raised a Danish flag on the island. He then buried a bottle of brandy at the base of the flagpole and left a note saying "Welcome to the Danish island."
So if anyone deserved to be criticized by SL, it was Denmark and not Canada. Denmark started it. Russia wasn't responding to any prior flag-planting by a competitor state when it sent submarines to the Arctic, it was acting in the first instance out of sheer unilateral greed. SL clearly owes Canada an apology.

Then there's this tidbit that SL also chose to ignore:
Peter Taksoe-Jensen, spokesman for Denmark's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Copenhagen, says for years Canada and Denmark have agreed to disagree over the island and he sees it as a friendly dispute.
In other words from all appearances, Canada and Denmark were pretty much having each other on. That scenario certainly makes sense, given the puny stakes involved. By contrast, nobody on the face of the earth is suggesting that the dispute now arising between Russia and the entire outside world is "friendly" in any way. The world is quite properly outraged at this naked act of Russian imperialism, taken by a country that already has more territory than any other nation and plenty of energy resources.

Tsk, tsk, tsk, we say to SL, for allowing these two basic facts to escape its analysis. There is no excuse for these lapses. The wreckage Mike Averko has left in his wake of blogs to which he has attached himself like a leech and thereby obliterated the credibility of is impressive: Intelligent.ru, Russia Blog, Sean's Russia Blog. SL, do you really want to be the next domino? It would be a tragedy to see SL go down that road, because it's got lots to offer.

Oh and, one other thing. Whilst we are giving SL the business, we'd like to point out how disappointed we are that the blog has chosen, as shown in the screenshot below from Saturday August 4th,


to run advertisements for mail-order brides from Russia in exchange for cash income. These services are not that different from pimping agencies in many cases, and we seriously doubt SL has done the requisite research to find out whether those it advertises are reputable or not. What's more, it's not really in Russia's best interests, what with its declining population and all, to have its women siphoned off to other countries by people who don't know the first thing about Russian culture. (And please spare us, SL, the rationalization that you don't control which ads Google puts up on your blog. If you take the money, you take the consequences.)

We'd like to take this opportunity to remind our readers that we don't try to make money off La Russophobe in any way, much less by marketing Russian brides, though we could do so easily because of our high level of traffic. This is a sign of our commitment to what we are doing. We'd like to invite and challenge SL (and all Russia bloggers) to do the same, and elevate the blogosphere above the level of commercial journalism. We provide content to Publius Pundit, which does run advertisements, but we get none of that revenue, and when ads for Russian brides briefly appeared on that blog we immediately insisted they be removed. They immediately were.


2 comments:

Misha Two Percent said...

As I recall, you failed to read a link to an article someone put in one of their posts before accusing them of lying about it, when it was there in black and white, "Yes."

http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2007/06/26/the-lies-at-russia-blog-just-keep-coming/#comment-5291

I know, I know, pointing out that you're an anonymous blogging collective that falsely attacks people is a neo-Soviet tactic of shooting the messenger. But I would say that you're a little bit sloppier than Andy, and more obsessive compulsive than Mr. Averko.

http://accidentalrussophile.blogspot.com/2007/08/bigger-slice-of-pie.html

The real point about the Arctic stuff - nobody will care beyond this news cycle. Global warming isn't happening nearly as fast as the alarmists say - one side of Greenland is actually adding ice pack. Makes prospecting for oil and gas up there not a cheap proposition, even compared to the Siberian permafrost.

La Russophobe said...

Your comment is totally demented and unintelligible propaganda. You have not given one single shred of evidence that we have "falsely attacked" ANYONE, much less that we have done it more often than Andy.

There isn't one single word in the Accidental Russophile's post you cite about any error made by this blog, nor do you link to any other outside source which has documented such an incident. Not only did we link to the article in the financial times about Berezovsky, we featured it in a major post:

http://russophobe.blogspot.com/2007/06/berezovsky-funding-other-russia-if-only.html

We then featured Berezovsky's powerful explanation:

http://russophobe.blogspot.com/2007/07/berezovsky-speaks.html

which was ignored by many other Russophile blogs in grossly unethical fashion.

And since then the British government has confirmed a major threat on Berezovsky's life, something many pro-Russia bloggers have shamelessly ignored:

http://russophobe.blogspot.com/2007/07/battle-berezovsky.html

We demand an apology for your outrageous misrepresentation.

What's more, even if we were documented to have "falsely attacked" many more times than Andy, that wouldn't make Andy right for doing it. Instead of providing a substantive defense of Andy's post, which you obviously can't do, you launch an anonymous attack on us, even while criticizing us for doing that. Isn't it rather hypocritical?

You could easily prove that "nobody cared beyond the news cycle" about lots of things that ultimately went on to cause lots of terrible harm. Only a small-minded person (or a neo-Soviet propagandist) would find that a basis to remain silent.