15 May 2014

Dear Canucks - please explain Doug Saunders. Please?

The first time I encountered this name was this January, when Terry Glavin described some shameless manipulation of basic demographic data and other information by this gentleman.

But then, I got to read another article by the same author. The article in question is titled In Ukraine, beware the Cold War zombie apocalypse (normally any text that mentions zombies will be automatically expunged from my reading list, but I had to read that one). The article immediately shoves a totally wrong sentence in the reader's snout:
The most threatening thing Vladimir Putin has done in eastern Ukraine, worse than his massing of troops and trumping-up of separatist movements, is the way the Russian President has unleashed, on our shores, a zombie apocalypse.
OK, I says to meself: the man juggles facts to suit his thesis, like in that (above linked) story with Afghanistan. But how do you juggle out of the picture the heavy and immovable fact that Putin is way past threatening, that he has already appropriated a sizable chunk of someone else's territory? Does Crimea ring a bell in that head at all? I went to the extreme of checking the date on the article - who knows, it may have been written way before... nah.

The next passage has to do with political leanings:
These zombies, raising their crumbling limbs from the dank soil of think tanks, university departments and military alliances, are the Cold War hawks. Shaking off the loam of a quarter-century’s irrelevance... etc.
OK, the man is a stopper* and, as such, he has to express his distaste for all these right wing warmongering running lackey dogs of imperialism, surely you understand that.

The next passage, the one that starts with "They’re wrong about military power." is hardly of interest to me because of its contents, but it carries two mentions worth noticing: one of Paul Pillar, the ex-CIA man who sees little Mossad men crawling his air-conditioning ducts. And a mention of "writer" (?) Peter Beinart - not because he is a writer, which by itself is an intriguing statement. No, it is because Mr Beinart is quoted as a man who quoted another man: "In support of this, writer Peter Beinart cites political scientist Daryl Press..." I don't know, is it some new trend in modern journalism - to quote people who quote other people? Whatever...

But then (if you are able to continue reading) you strike gold. The gold starts with "They’re wrong about Russia." This treasure of expertize on Russia (and on history as well) is a must for some easy fisking, so I'll have to quote and respond to it almost sentence by sentence, hoping for your indulgence. Here we go:
Mr. Putin stands to gain absolutely nothing from eastern Ukraine.
What kind of gain does Mr Saunders have in mind? Klondike kind? Does "Russian empire" mean something to Mr Saunders and what is the gain in being an empire?
Even the most “Russian” of the eastern districts has no more than one-third Russians in its population, and they are by no means united behind Moscow.
Yeah, indeed, the "referendum" that just ended in these eastern districts has shown 98%** for secession from Ukraine and for the next anschluss, how about that?
Adding such regions to Russia would give him economically useless territory that would likely be plunged into perpetual civil war.
I can easily imagine one of Mr Saunders' ancestors preaching the same to Hitler and his generals before September 1939 push into Poland... as true as it was then, but what does it have to do with anything? Should Putin aim for some richer pastures, like... er... Japan, for instance? And - civil war under Russian control? Somebody is being real stu... oh well, let's leave it for the summary.
This is not empire-building; his territorial thrust puts him in a position of weakness, not strength.
Empire-building as a financial enterprise - imagine that. Russian tzars should have learned that hundreds years ago, maybe today the world would have looked different. Oh boy...
The Russian military is weak: While it claims a million soldiers, almost all of them are make-work conscripts who are unable to fight; Mr. Putin’s viable fighting force is estimated in the tens of thousands.
It looks like something copy/pasted from Western popular media of the eighties (the last century, I mean). Mr Saunders should really beef up his knowledge on the Russian military, and I mean it. That before he gets to write on the subject in mass media, of course.
Europe has hundreds of thousands of soldiers who can be deployed instantly.
Should I say "tee hee" here or would you, the kind reader, do it for me?

Well, enough is almost enough, but not before I briefly mention another passage:
They were wrong the last time around. The Cold War Hawks have been interred in cold earth for decades because they were wrong about the Cold War itself.
Yeah... the only thing is that these hawks, whether our stopper likes it or not, have won the Cold War - for people like I, who will be eternally grateful to them. Stoppers' opinion notwithstanding. The myth about Soviet Union folding down by itself, without the relentless pressure applied to it by the "Cold War Hawks" Mr Saunders so despises, is gaining popularity, it's true, but only in Mr Saunders' crowd, fortunately.

But now it's really enough. All of the above points surely and unequivocally to one main trait of our protagonist: boundless dumbness. Whatever else comprises Mr Saunders' personality, like his predilection to manipulation of raw data and to ignoring good advice, must be a secondary feature. The dumbness is simply overwhelming.

So I just had to look closer at the person behind this outpouring of stupidity. According to his place of employment, he is an "International-Affairs Columnist". I am not sure I know how "International-Affairs Columnist" differs from a simple "International Affairs Columnist", but there must be something professional there I am not tooled to gauge. So, of course, my next step was to turn to Wiki. And I struck the proverbial gold fairly soon:
Saunders ... educated in and around Toronto including a seven-year stint at York University, though he did not earn a degree.
I don't even want to know what "educated in and around Toronto" means (I was young myself too and can imagine), but the bit about the seven-year stint with no degree to show for it is kinda telling. Then there is another gold vein, in a different plane altogether:
In 2012, Saunders wrote a research-based book titled "The Myth of the Muslim Tide," .... The book is a factual counterargument to works by such figures as Thilo Sarrazin, Mark Steyn, Bruce Bawer, and to the political movements of Geert Wilders and Anders Behring Breivik, which argue that Muslim immigrants cannot be assimilated, have high population-growth rates and are poised to conquer or dominate Western civilization. Using a team of researchers, Saunders presents data which make the case that these assertions cannot be true.
Yeah... anyway... "these assertions cannot be true" just about covers it, right?

But all that gold came to naught when I have seen that:
His journalism has won the National Newspaper Award, the Canadian counterpart to the Pulitzer Prize, on five occasions...
So now I don't have an alternative to turning from that very brief study of Doug Saunders, surely one of the dumbest men in the Galaxy, to his fellow Canadians. Why, people, why? I know a few of you, and all of you that I know are nicest and most reasonable people one would wish to share a dinner table or just a bottle of some restorative beverage with.

But why have you handed this character your equivalent of Pulitzer Prize, and 5 (five) times, no less? Is there some unwritten Canadian tradition to award prizes to mentally challenged? Or is it that the mere name Douglas "Doug" Richard Alan Saunders strikes some cord in your heart that it doesn't strike in the hearts of all them forinners?

Please, dear Canucks - explain this away.

Many thanks in advance.

Yours sincerely.

(*) Stopper - a cool British term for the curious and somewhat pitiful Stop The War (Code Pink in US etc.)  sort of people, in case you didn't know.

(**) Of course, have the referendum been conducted for real, the number would have been lower, but still overwhelmingly in support of secession. What Doug Saunders doesn't understand (between a lot of other things) is that many an ethnic Ukrainian voted for secession as well, hoping for a better life in undeniably richer Russia (whether it will be better indeed is questionable, though).


Lynne T said...

What can I say, Snoop, but that Canadian journalism has generally become a disaster zone because readers stand for it in just enough numbers to keep publishing. But this latest Saunders column is the straw. I will be cancelling my Saturdays only sub and picking up the National Post instead.

Lynne T said...

And when I say "generally" I am exempting Terry Glavin.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

It seems to be a righteous and salutary decision in the circumstances.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

That for sure.

LouiseShah said...

Doug Saunders. Doug Saunders. That name sound familiar but I'll be darned if I know why.

SnoopyTheGoon said...