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2014 Pulitzer Prizes honor NSA revelations

Fans of Edward Snowden can be satisfied. As expected, The Washington Post and The Guardian won the Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for revealing the U.S. government’s sweeping surveillance efforts in stories based on thousands of secret documents handed over by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

The award, announced in New York on Monday, comes 10 months after the Guardian published the first report based on the leaks from Snowden, revealing the agency’s bulk collection of US citizens’ phone records. In the series of articles that ensued, teams of journalists at the Guardian and the Washington Post published the most substantial disclosures of US government secrets since the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam war in 1971.

A Virtual Conversation With Edward Snowden - 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive FestivalThe former NSA contractor Edward Snowden issued a statement on Monday in response to the decision by the Pulitzer prize committee to reward the Guardian and the Washington Post with its top 2014 award.

”I am grateful to the committee for their recognition of the efforts of those involved in the last year’s reporting, and join others around the world in congratulating Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman, Ewen MacAskill and all of the others at the Guardian and Washington Post on winning the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

Today’s decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognises was work of vital public importance.

This decision reminds us that what no individual conscience can change, a free press can. My efforts would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers, and they have my gratitude and respect for their extraordinary service to our society. Their work has given us a better future and a more accountable democracy” said Snowden.

At the Guardian, the NSA reporting was led by Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and film-maker Laura Poitras, and at the Washington Post by Barton Gellman, who also co-operated with Poitras. All four journalists were honoured with a George Polk journalism award last week for their work on the NSA story.

The Pulitzers have been bestowed since 1917, at the bequest of the legendary boston_globenewspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer who established the honour in his will as a means of encouraging publicly-spirited journalism. Awards were given in 22 categories this year: the Boston Globe received the Pulitzer for breaking for “exhaustive and empathetic” coverage of the Boston marathon bombing. Journalists in the Globe newsroom held observed a period of silence on Monday in memory of the victims, a day before the one-year anniversary of the attack.

To the category International Reporting were awarded Jason Szep and Andrew R.C. Marshall of Reuters for their courageous reports on the violent persecution of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Myanmar that, in efforts to flee the country, often falls victim to predatory human-trafficking networks. Donna Tartt’s bestselling novel “The Goldfinch,” published by Little, Brown, won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The integral list of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners can be read here.

According American expert Gordon Hahn, ”Putin would have paid a heavy political price domestically if he ignored the voice of Russians from Crimea”

Power&Politics World – Bucharest – Romania/www.powerpolitics.ro

Romanian-flag- Mr. Hahn, can we talk about winners and losers in the crisis in Ukraine, or the things are much more nuanced than they seem at first sight?

Dr. Gordon M. Hahn

Dr. Gordon M. Hahn

Gordon Hahn: – Everyone right now has lost something. The big loser so far is Ukraine. It has lost Crimea, is at risk of further destabilization and even Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine, has an unstable government, and its constitutional system lacks legitimacy at least until the May presidential elections. Russia has gained Crimea which will have some economic costs, and the sanctions will add to those. Right now a mitigating plus for Moscow is that historical justice has been restored, since Crimea was always part of Russia until the totalitarian internationalist communist regime which sought to destroy nationalities and nation-states in order to evolve the new ‘Soviet man’ and identity and establish a global communist regime. The US and the West have lost by making a regional and semi-global power, Russia, something close to an enemy and thereby damaging their own national security. They did this through their policies of expanding NATO without Russia and against its will and of coupling that threatening policy for Russia with efforts to support democratization and therefore, wittingly or unwittingly, anti-Russian opposition movements and de facto ‘color revolutions’ in states near or neighboring Russia. Moreover, the West’s sanctions and possible Russian counter-sanctions are going to put at risk the global economic recovery, which is weak to begin with. Perhaps, the only winners are countries like China and India, which come off as paragons of reason compared to their Russian, American, and European counterparts – all engaged in ‘19th century thinking,’ as they say.
- What do you think: was an error of Mr. Putin (and his stuff) or a long awaited rematch?
GH: – I think Putin overreacted to the long-standing series of slights Russia has experienced since the end of the Cold War. Georgia 2008 was the first sign that Moscow would no longer acquiesce in what it perceives as threats to its national security and ‘fait accomplis’ imposed on it by Washington and the West. Another color revolution with neo-fascist elements occurring during Putin’s big moment at Sochi and accomplished through a betrayal of the Western-sponsored February 21 agreement between Yanukovich and the opposition pushed him over the edge.
- There is a usual confrontation between Russia and US (look, they are speaking about a new Cold War), or is a shift of paradigm of international relation system?
GH: – There is no doubt that the geostrategic systemic aspect of the crisis features a West in some sort of decline, in particular that of a hegemon in a unipolar system – with regional and semi-global powers like Russia and China counterbalancing against the hegemon. So this could be the beginning of a shift to a more multipolar and less stable international system. The international law aspect is also important. When great powers see it in their interests to claim international law as the standard of international political conduct, they are operating under the rather false assumption that international law usually sticks and that it is a reflection of a democratic order. However, there is nothing like a democratic international political system in place. This should be evident from the inordinate power that the five permamnent members of the National Security Council enjoy. Hence, when there is disagreement between the council’s members the system is likely to breakdown and needs to be supplemented with timely international conferences and negotiations. This was not done with regard to Ukraine until it was very, very, indeed too late, because the crisis had been in the making with NATO’s nearly two decade march east to Russia’s borders.
- Sometimes it seems to me that in the media battle between East and West has lost something essential: the simple Ukrainians from Euromaidan, all those people unemployed political and ideological. Can you to distinguish them in this melting propaganda?
GH: – No, not very clearly, unfortunately. It is hard to make generalizations about something as grand as the ‘international media’. I can only speak to the media I watch. I have found the U.S. independent media to be nearly as one-sided and hysterical as Russia’s state media. Russian independent media – Ekho Moskvy and others – have done a superb job, and Aleksei Venediktov should win a Nobel or Pullitzer for what he has done there. Oddly enough, the radio station is funded by the Russian state-owned GazProm’s media holding company. If the Kremlin could make its state media as all-encompassing and objective as Ekho, there would be no complaints about media freedom in Russia.
- Already Crimea situation is quite clear. Although many assumptions are made, yet no one dares to answer the question: will stop Russia here or there is the next stage, at least for the Eastern region of Ukraine?
GH: – I expect that if there are no unforeseen circumstances, provocations, or US_Russia_UkraineWestern missteps, Russia will not invade Ukraine, east or west. I do not think the plan is to conquer Ukraine or Poland or Europe as much of the biased US media and analytical community claims. Nor do I assume that Putin’s original intent was to annex Crimea. Rather, he might have sought to ensure security there and retaliate against the West’s meddling only, but the local population’s immediate calls for reunification with Russia and perhaps other considerations informed by the unfolding of events led Putin to support the reunification movement and referendum. After all, once those demands emerged, Putin would have paid a heavy political price domestically if he ignored them, especially if violence developed in Crimea, or eastern Ukrainian neo-fascists infiltrated and began provocations, or Kiev sent troops, which would have led to war.
- As it stand the things at the moment, and calling to you expertize: the globalization helps or entangles when it comes to managed a crisis of this kind?
GH: – Need more time to think about this question.
- Jens Stoltenberg most likely appointment to the Secretary General of NATO changes something in Russia’s perception about NATO plans? See you a better mediation of differences of opinion between the two parties? Do you think it’s a wise choice – Norwegian instead of Polish – we remember that previously was mentioned the name of Radoslaw Sikorsky (artisan of discussions between Yanukovich – opposition)?
GH: – I think selecting a Pole and one who has clear anti-Russian sentiments would have added additional animosity to the Russian-West relationship. This explains the appearance of possible new choice.

                                interview made by Gabriela Ionita

Gordon M. Hahn is analyst and Advisory Board Member of Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, Senior Researcher – Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies, Akribis Group, San Jose, California and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, Calif. Also Dr. Hahn is author of the well-received books ”Russia’s Islamic Threat” (Yale University Press, 2007) and ”Russia’s Revolution From Above, 1985-2000” (Transaction Publishers, 2002), the forthcoming The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014), various think tank reports, and numerous articles in academic journals and other English and Russian language media. He has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and has been a senior associate/visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Kennan Institute in Washington DC and at the Hoover Institution.

 

“Westernization of Russia” – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the power of example

Most likely, while the Russian President Vladimir Putin had not even finished his nationalist-motivational speech in front of the Duma representatives and Government ministers, from the Western governments – followed feverishly by the news agencies employees – huge cohorts of harsh words obediently lined up in the cyberspace of the media war. The arrogance and triumphalism of Kremlin’s leader (somewhat contrasting with the cringed and pensive-thought faces of Ministers Lavrov and Shoigu) injected pure adrenaline in the whole of Western propaganda, which has spared no drop of proletarian-capitalism to blame Russia and its imperialist policies.

The West (with its heritage of elegance, diplomacy and democracy in a visible decline) lost a great opportunity to be quiet and ruminate. As a matter of fact, Putin’s speechwriters had a very easy mission, only having to put together all the objectives listed by him in each of his election campaign and just adding here and there some nuances adequate to the moment. A moment more or less historical, but nevertheless one of global and conclusive scan for international relations.

 	    Address by President of the Russian Federation.Why I dare saying this? Because, if we leave aside the functional hypocrisy, we can see that for  two decades the U.S. and its European allies have successfully used double standard and treated as optional the principles of international relations. UN has become a highly politicized and bureaucratized institution and its resolutions just an excuse for the incriminating and warning press releases. In the name of democracy and human rights, conflicts were inflicted that ultimately did not improve the political and social climate of those countries, but they did generate profits for Western corporations, new markets and new resources to be exploited in different areas around the world.

For over two decades, Russia just stood and watched the events in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Arab Spring. At the same time it integrated in its foreign policy strategy all the elements that it has seen at its western partners. It grafted on its recent frustrations and its old ambitions of imperial power every western strategy policy which could prove useful.

For the past 20 years Russia has “westernized” its foreign policy to match the image and likeness of “rule makers” alongside whom Moscow wanted to return to the table of world decisions. The Eastern giant has even checked point by point if this approach works – the intervention in Georgia, bringing the unofficial protectorate of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the support of some dictatorships in its sphere of influence, implementing “divide et impera” principle with the EU relations, convincing the international community against military intervention in Syria, mediating negotiations with Iran – each of these events has its counterpart in the U.S. policy of the last 20 years.

Moreover, Russia has observed that the projection of hard-power using F-16

”вежливые люди”

”вежливые люди”

squadrons with a little glitter of democracy and soft-power is tolerated by the international public opinion and the achievement of economic interests (oil, gas, distribution networks, markets, expensive purchases by preferential contracts) are more easily achieved covered under a humanitarian slogan. For who has not noticed yet, the “polite” military forces (“вежливые люди”) from Crimea are an “upgraded version” of the allied troops in the theaters of operations of NATO. Therefore, the West is somewhat groundlessly grumpy.  The Russian sorcerer’s apprentice did all that was necessary to be a good disciple.

If Russia has exceeded its Master and even has the audacity to confront him it should be a sign … not of joy, indeed, but for deep reflection on the “power of example”. Or rather of “the example of power”? The West can’t just invocate endlessly concepts like “sovereignty”, “international agreements”, “principles of law”, “freedom”, “right to self-determination” and it can’t claim compliance with them without itself following them scrupulously. And if the West does not follow them, then it cannot pretend this to the East, in which case maybe we need to include arbitrary and double standards as the basis of ethics in international relations. I can guarantee that we will get accustomed to them as we are accustomed to hearing / seeing daily about terrorist attacks in which dozens of people die or about violent suppression of those who ask for their rights all over the planet (from the Wall Street in New York to the Bolotnaya Square in Moscow) but at least we will know, without false hypocrisy, at which level of civilization (or lack of it!) we are.

If you read my article because you wish to know what Russia will do in the future, I advise you to carefully watch toward the West. The answer is primarily at the White House (with some help from London 10 Downing Street). Also at Bundeskanzleramt. Only afterwards will there be a reaction from the sumptuous offices of Kremlin. Is Russia right? Of course not!  But Russia has mitigating circumstances. On the streets with gangs is not a good idea to go dressed wearing a tuxedo.

Finally, one more question: would the leaders of Western governments use a strategy equally hysterical also in the case of the “Dragon Apprentice”? What will do they if/when China (in its good tradition to assimilate and copy everything!) will show how has understood to include in its foreign policy strategy the approaches seen in the last 20 years at global level and will start “to worry about the welfare and morality“ of the nations of the planet?! – For as much beginning with Russia is not exactly reassuring… just saying!

Original file published by The World Reporter

Photo by kremlin.ru