Saturday, February 7, 2015

Mercouris on Strelkov: When Mercury is retrograde, one descends back to the Cave to shine a light on those within

AlexanderMercouris​ published in Russia Insider what he (somewhat bombastically--on the account of the adjective "definitive" ) calls his "definitive, but ultimately favorable take" on Igor Strelkov, if a sly attempted character assassination can be assumed to be a "favorable" take on another person. In reality, his piece is a spin on a spin in the form of a Bloomberg piece, which he attaches to his own spin and which he calls without even winking "a reproduced interview" of Strelkov. The Bloomberg piece is, in reality, a Strelkov's interview torn into pieces and assembled in such a way as to produce a biased spin.

Mercouris quickly shows that he actually knows about Strelkov or researched about Strelkov very little, and that he is basing what he knows mainly on Western sources: "Remarkably little is known about him or about his private life or about his previous career. Claims ... appear to originate in Ukrainian sources ... Western governments and the Maidan government in Ukraine say .... Ukrainian and Western reports ... He probably did fight in some of these earlier wars but details are sketchy and the reports do not seem very reliable." This sums up Mercouris' stated research (besides the one that, in its depth and spin, might not differ that much from these and which is not mentioned in the article anyway). The key word in this introduction, which sets the basis for Mercouris' "definitive take" is well captured in the very word, which also came to his mind--"sketchy."

Mercouris' sloppiness comes out well here: "Some have called him a monarchist though whether that is because of things he has actually said or because of ideas and assumptions others project on him is unclear." Had Mercouris known better, he might have known that Strelkov did state his political ideal quite clearly in his interviews. However, it would or might (let's stay with the word "might") be also clear that Strelkov does not fit into any of the old, stereotypical boxes and cliches. But that might also be part of the problem: to see that one would need to emancipate oneself from pre-existing or received cliches.

Mercouris then concludes on the basis of his sketchy and cliched view that "[o]f a coherent political programme [on the part of Strelkov] there is little evidence." A support for this Mercouris finds in this: "Strelkov himself seems to realise that and that he is simply not cut out to be a politician. He has consistently refused to involve himself in politics." The trouble with this is that Mercouris clearly fails to understand and realize that Strelkov does not want to be like all those "politicians' who justly gave politicians and politics their bad name. There is politics, and then there is other politics or a different political art. In his poorly received joke to Merkel, Putin famously said that it does not matter how one does it at the wedding night, the result is the same. Well, the fact is that it is not. The scale and big differences between love-making and fucking, not to mention rape, are vast. But when analysts fail to make distinctions, it is rather embarrassing.

Mercouris' ad hominem, key false claim in his "ultimately favorable take" comes soon enough: "During the time he was in charge first in Slavyansk and then in Donetsk, Strelkov fell out with almost everybody he worked with. News coming out of Slavyansk and Donetsk during this period was one of a seemingly endless succession of dismissals, arrests and forced “resignations”, which must have made Strelkov many enemies within the rebel leadership." Being a commander is not a popularity contest, but the fact is that Strelkov is and remains second to none as the most respected, beloved, and popular Novorosssiya commander and leader. Moreover, Mercouris happens to acknowledge this very fact himself in the very title of his piece—“Insight and Limitations of Russia’s MOST POPULAR MILITARY HERO (Igor Strelkov).” Does Mercouris measure "almost everybody" by Kurginyan? As far as I am concerned, in these few lines Mercouris managed to destroy the last respect I had for him as a reasonably spinning commentator.

Mercouris then takes a spin on Alexander Borodai's spin and turns it into an insinuation that Strelkov might be irrational, if not mad: "One of his former associates, Alexander Borodai, has questioned Strelkov’s hold on reality."

Mercouris continues and tries to present Strelkov's and his soldiers' struggle for Novorosssiya and against the Nazi junta as some Strelkov's own personal ego trip: "To Strelkov’s obvious bewilderment, his “strategy” failed as Putin resisted calls to come to HIS [my emphasis] rescue. Unlike Gordon - and to Strelkov’s great credit - when it became clear his strategy had failed, he had the wisdom to withdraw from Slavyansk, preserving his forces intact." Strelkov had to fight the way out of encircled Slavyansk, and what Mercouris now calls "wisdom" (for a man with a supposedly faulty "hold on reality"), Saker then called a political disaster. Mercouris is adamant that Strelkov's "strategy failed" and that the meaning of Strelkov's "wisdom" is that Strelkov came to see in the last moment that his "strategy had failed." What failed was Moscow's then already ongoing attempt to trade Donbass for a never-to-come acquiescence of the US and the junta in losing Crimea to Russia. Moreover, while Slavyansk was lost to the junta (besides Mozgovoy, no one bothered to mount effective resistance to the junta and to fight it in earnest at that moment, including the Russian government), Strelkov's dash to Donetsk saved the city and Donbass from its prepared surrender and thus played a critical role in reversing the tide of the war.

Mercouris, however, is keen on creating a notion and inserting it into the reader's mind that Strelkov and his strategy were alleged "failures." So, for effect, he repeats the claim at least twice more (does it make it three?), while making what he accuses Strelkov of--"sweeping claims": "In the various interviews Strelkov has given since he was ousted from his post as defence minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, including the one we reproduce below, he continues to defend his original strategy despite its failure. As is often the case when people try to justify a strategy that has failed, he does so by making claims ...
His interview therefore makes sweeping claims ..."

Mercouris' then sums up his "definitive, but ultimately favorable take" on Strelkov by issuing to Strelkov a diagnosis of possessing "little understanding and awareness." “Of the problems a ‘victory’ achieved in this way might have made for Russia, he shows little understanding or awareness.”  Too bad that Mercouris was not the Donetsk defense minister; his awareness and understanding would, by definition, tower over that of Strelkov.
To soften the impact, Mercouris then pens one of his characteristic sentences following a device, which one English scholar once described to me as a “shit sandwich”: putting what stinks in-between a cover, i.e., in-between a seeming compliment: “This is not to say that Strelkov’s claims are without insight. He is surely right … “

Then, for some reason, whom Strelkov sees as anti-patriotic liberals in the Russian government, Mercouris sees as “realists: “It is the ‘realists’ in the Russian government rather than Putin himself who provoke Strelkov’s ire.” The fact is that Strelkov never called these anti-patriotic liberals or the fifth column “realists.”

Mercouris’ “sketchy” spin reaches its extreme here and its unprofessionalism: “Strelkov’s self-image is that of a Russian soldier obedient unto death, even though it seems that he has no professional background or history in the Russian army.” The war in Ukraine is Strelkov’s fifth war, and his service included both Chechen wars in the ranks of the Russian army. Strelkov is also a colonel, and he clearly had to earn it. But why should anyone or any fact or consideration get into the way of the spinner and his happy “definitive, but ultimately favorable” spin?
If Mercouris denies to Strelkov any “professional background or history in the Russian army,” he himself must have a military background or he is himself convinced that not having it does not matter, when he feels competent to state the following: “[Strelkov’s] skill is however very much in small unit operations and what might be called partisan war. In the brutal conventional fighting that has been the hallmark of the conflict in Ukraine since July, he is out of place. As he says in the interview, ‘There’s no glory. Nothing but damage.’” Of course, quoting to Strelkov’s brief sentences does not prove any of what Mercouris asserts except for a flabby attempt to fake logic and proof with the little word “as.” Otherwise no connection or relevance.

Too bad that Mercouris does not have what he praises Strelkov for: “Strelkov has enough wisdom to understand his limitations.” If Mercouris’ spin “definitive” spin is to be a standard and criterion for “professionalism” and “depth,” then we would become limited to this: “… in the conventional war the conflict in Ukraine has now become [Strelkov] was increasingly out of his depth. His removal was essential to make way for the more professional political and military leaders who have taken his place.” Just before this Mercouris, however, himself indicated the actual reason behind Strelkov’s removal—Strelkov’s opposition to what Mercouris dubs as “the Minsk PEACE process.” Does this then mean that Strelkov’s opposition to the Minsk Deal (also denounced by Boris Rozhin and over 90% of the Novorosssiya militia), i.e., to the Minsk Protocal, which Mercouris himself once called a “piece of toilet paper,” is now  a sign of Strelkov’s supposed lacking professionalism and his being “out of depth,” whereas the Minsk Protocol, a supposed “toilet paper,” would be a sign of professionalism and depth?

Then Mercouris ends and appends a spin piece from Bloomberg.

Ecce homo!

No comments:

Post a Comment