June 06, 2003

Pravda's Wolfowitz Whopper--Even Worse than

Pravda's Wolfowitz Whopper--Even Worse than the Guardian's!

So the Guardian has pulled and corrected the grossly distorted Wolfowitz story the Belgravia Dispatch broke here.

But the damage has already been done. The story has spread to a variety of media outlets and not only the predictable precincts like Socialist sites and the like but also more mainstream outlets. Check out the Asia Times, a leading Beirut-based paper, or John Dean (remember him?). (The Utne Reader has now pulled the story--though without a correction). UPDATE: Utne has put up a correction. Thanks to reader TS of San Diego for bringing it to my attention.

But here's a real whopper generated by the Guardian's sloppy work (I'm being generous and not calling it a purposeful distortion they happened to get called on). Pravda is reporting that Wolfowitz admitted to an "amazed" audience at the security conference in Asia (where he made the remarks distorted by the Guardian) that the U.S. went to war in Iraq to secure its oil supplies. They even asked whether Wolfowitz will now have to resign given the considerable embarrasment his comments caused Bush!

But here's where it gets more interesting. Pravda went even further than the Guardian seemingly creating new quotes wholesale to further juice up the story. My Russian is very rudimentary, so Russian speakers chime in if I've got this wrong (though I've checked it with a fluent speaker who teaches British diplomats Russian), but after using the Guardian's (mis)quotes, Pravda has Paul Wolfowitz concluding: "We are not as much interested in controlling the WMD as we are in controlling the oil."

This added distortion is not put in quotations in the English language version on Pravda's website . But the translation is still shocking:

"The British newspaper the Guardian wrote that Paul Wolfowitz stated at the Asian security summit that oil was the major reason to launch the war on Iraq. This means that the adversaries of the military campaign were totally right. Donald Rumsfeld's tender emotions towards American tanks that brought freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq look ridiculous against such a background.

Speaking of the summit, Paul Wolfowitz shocked everyone with his openness. Answering a question about the USA's attitude to other nuclear powers like North Korea, Wolfowitz said that the major difference between North Korea and Iraq was oil. Deputy defense secretary said that the American administration had no choice in Iraq from the economic point of view, since the country is smothered in oil. Furthermore, Paul Wolfowitz added that American officials were more interested in controlling oil, not weapons of mass destruction."

[Note: It's the last italicized sentence that is treated as a verbatim Wolfowitz quote in the Russian language version of the article that my Russian source translated slightly differently than the Pravda translator. Regardless, both translations represent an outright fabrication by Pravda].

How's that for a whopper? And this from a paper called "Truth." Let's hope for a correction there too? The article concludes, by the way, ( I'm paraphrasing carefully here) that the White House no longer makes a mystery of the fact that a new historical phase for control of natural resources has arrived and military force will be used to achieve such objectives when necessary. Possession of WMD is "just words," ie., a pretext for gaining control of natural resources.

Be certain that your average Russian reading this article now believes that the number two man in the entire military apparatus of the United States has openly admitted, to an "amazed" audience, that the U.S. went to war in Iraq for oil and that the WMD angle was a fabrication pure and simple. And that American strategic objectives going forward involve securing natural resources through military means whenever deemed necessary.

One price of careless or purposefully deceptive journalism is that it spawns more (note that Pravda relies on the Guardian's story to lend authority to the distortions they further exaggerate).

Another price? Russians who hadn't swallowed conspiratorial nostrums that the Yankee cavalry charged Baghdad simply to secure crude for our myriad SPV's are now fewer in number feeling that said alleged policy aim has now been openly acknowledged by a leading figure in the Bush administration.

UPDATE: Here is the same Pravda reporter crudely distorting the Tanenhaus interview. At least he is thorough!

Posted by Gregory at June 6, 2003 10:51 AM
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