In the opening lines of his book, ‘Media Control: The spectacular Achievements of Propaganda’ Noam Chomsky briefly described two conceptions of democracy. First being ‘a democratic society is one in which the public has the means to participate in some meaningful way in the management of their own affairs and the means of information are open and free.’ The ‘alternative’ conception of democracy is that ‘the public must be barred from managing their own affairs and means of information must be narrowly and rigidly controlled.’ The latter would seem to be, more appropriately described, as the practical use of democracy.
If you were to watch any Russian channel coming from Russia, in just a few hours you’d discover a whole new world. At first, you’ll get some news of how the Crimea is now the greatest place on earth to live. Everybody’s happy, dancing in a circle, holding hands, singing songs and relieved that the Ukrainian ‘fascists’ were prevented to go on an ethnic cleansing campaign by the noble Russians. Then you’d discover how the Russians are standing up to the fascists all over the world by reminding them of mutual agreements that the western nations are ‘breaking.’ Interestingly enough, invading another nation’s territory and holding a vote under a barrel of the gun, apparently isn’t one of those… Afterwards, you’d discover how miserable the life is in the European Union, how no nation that is a part of it, actually wants to be a part of it and are being forced by unspecified forces… Somewhere in between, a television show, a Russian version of ‘Cops’ will show you how Russian law enforcement cleans up it’s streets. Incidentally, every single criminal in Russia it seems, happens to be Ukrainian. Back in 2008, every single criminal was Georgian. It seems that several different ethnic groups have agreed to a schedule on when to rip of the Russian land. Of course the people of Russia should also learn some history, the travesty that of all the former states of Yugoslavia. I mean, the Serbs and Albanians were peacefully slaughtering each other when NATO, led by the evil United States came in and spoiled the bliss. Somewhere in between, you’ll be reminded that Bill Clinton was having an affair with Monica Lewinsky and somehow that it’s related to bombing of Kosovo. You’ll revisit all the ‘9-11 was an inside job’ claims that was executed as a premise to invade Iraq. Some of these claims do have a faint of legitimate criticism but, for the most part, I could do much better without lying.
Very little is done to actually have a real conversation about the problems and realities of Crimea within Russia. Russian critiques of United States methods of waging military conflicts would suggest that, by their own logic, what Russia itself is doing, is wrong. On the other hand, had Russia tried to seek a diplomatic solution by raising the question of whether Crimea should go back under it’s influence, would any nation had seriously considered this issue? There are millions of questions and possibilities of outcomes but, the public is given a very narrow view. As a result, Russians almost unanimously support Putin’s ambitions and the mentality is simple, ‘Crimea must belong to Russia.’ When asked to give reasons why that is true, not much is given. Most common answer is that Khrushchev gave it away and that was a mistake. Nonetheless, an agreement had been reached during the Soviet Union’s collapse and if we want to go through history as a way to determine which region should belong to which peoples, the map of the world would need to be completely re-drawn, including that of Russia. This isn’t to say that holding a vote was wrong. How it was held however, raises rightful concern of whether there was one that was actually held without a per-determined victor.
The opinion of Russians on Crimea is completely a manufactured one and as a result, a very fragile one. Given the history of the country and the ability of the government to convince it’s people that they’re living righteous when the opposite is true, give me very little hope that the growing sanctions will have any effect on Vladimir Putin’s behavior. If the world wants Russia to be more respectful of common interests of other nations as well as their own, sanctions is a good start but, perhaps it would be even better if the main target were the common people of Russia. Common people will suffer as a result of sanctions, that’s a given. Perhaps, you want to target them with information on what’s going on. Amplify the few voices in Russia that stand against such attitude towards it’s own people as well as other nations.