Who’s Afraid Of The Flying Russian Bear? On Paul Henry On Russian Intervention In Syria



Earlier this week, I made the mistake of tuning in to the Paul Henry Show.

Why? I don’t know. Presumably because it was relatively early in the morning, TVNZ’S Breakfast seemed passe (as opposed to TV3’s “interestingly terrible”), and watching marine biologist Steve Crow in action’s often good for a laugh.

Anyway. This isn’t a post about that much-maligned perennial processional, Boobs On Bikes.

Instead, it’s an expression of slowly smoldering outrage about that *other* furiously divisive public show of power … Bombs On Bunkers.

Specifically, the Russian Air Force in and around the skies of Syria.

Now before we proceed any further, it’s probably necessary to set out a few of my proscriptive perspective biases:

I’m, generally speaking, pro-Russia. I’m anti-ISIS. If I were being anti-inflammatory, I’d say I was anti-Paul Henry for much the same reason.

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I’m also fairly rigidly pro-Palestine and anti-Zionist … but then again, these days, who of any sense isn’t.

So it was with some annoyance that I saw Henry and Hillary Barry prognosticating and pontificating about the impetus and implications of a recent incident in which Russian jets were alleged to have violated Turkish airspace.

They puffed and they purred about the Russian Bear trespassing the territorial integrity of a fellow sovereign nation state, in purported violation of international law – and with a supposed view to provoking an international crisis of dire proportions.

It’s funny. I don’t think I saw this sort of ‘freestanding’ (or, more accurately, ‘grandstanding’) condemnation of a violation of sovereign airspace the last time Israeli jets turned up over Syria…

…possibly because the Israeli F-15s in question were chased back out again over Lebanon by none other than the Russian Air Force 😀

So when Paul Henry et co perambulate into their pentacled pulpit to propound on the evils of advanced military aircraft being used as the saber’s edge in a high-stakes game of realpolitik … it’s worth considering exactly whom they’re talking about on this score, and why.

Henry and Hillary, like many Western commentators (most of whom presumably grew up during the halcyon days of the late Cold War), are pre-primed as to who they see as the “antagonists” of any given situation. In this instance, being blind to the excesses of other actors in the region due to a hide-bound hand-wringing morality inherited from their parents’ generation and earlier surroundings about the pernicious threat represented by Russia.

Interestingly, my generation seems to have no such qualms.

Whereas older people I’ve observed and interacted with seem to mostly be intensively leery about Putin and his motivations, the people more closely proximate to my own peer-group in terms of age (and often political stature) seem far more cordial in our consideration of the relative merits of Russian intervention in Syria.

After all, it certainly seems (at this *highly* early stage) to be rather more effective than previous Western-implicitly-sanctioned air-assault efforts by, say, Turkey – the net effect of which seemed to be a far more obvious and damaging advancement of national-interests realpolitik for the nation with the air power and consequent general deterioration of the Syrian situation in train.

Whatever the outcome – and I suppose I should limit the spikes in my blood-pressure by consciously choosing to avoid unintentional exposure to Henry in the future – it irks me considerably that the news-sources of talking heads (or chattering voices, if you’re only tuned in to the radio edition) through which many, many Kiwis get their substantive news and second-hand opinion about current events and world affairs … can be so clearly, plainly and transparently … well … localized-essentialized-parenthialized-dumbed-down-Faux-News-esque in angle and reporting.

But then again, this IS Paul Henry. So I’m not sure quite why I sound so surprised.

In conclusion: when it comes to seeking out analysis of the complex “geopolitical” (I’m starting to hate that word) situations which seem to be springing up apace the world over of late … have a brain, have some eyes, do your own research, and don’t – whatever you do – simply blithely internalize a bobble-headed opinion from breakfast-nor-daytime TV.

Thank-you and goodnight.


  1. Paul Henry, Mike Hosking, Duncan Garner etc all play to the same baby boomer audience who some of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s called “straights”. They were always been a bunch of narrow minded dorks. Contrary to popular belief, the “hippy” generation were always a small minority. The only thing the “straights” took from the hippies was a relaxation in their dress code. Ironically you will find a large number of straight baby boomers now travelling around in motorhomes or riding Harley Davidsons and listening to Led Zeppelin.

    • Reading the comments on this site confirms there are some dumb disillusioned idiots in this country, and traitors. No wonder you lost the election. Such bigoted views.

      • Unlike the smart, coherent loyalists over at Whale Oil or Kiwiblog, no doubt. Very open-minded comments on those blogs I find.
        You’ll get a much more considered set of opinions on those blogs – some real intellectual weight, finely nuanced argument and loads of good old plain common sense.
        You don’t want to waste your time here – this blog is shit. Start with arch bigot Bomber Bradbury the ringleader and it all goes downhill from there. Chris Trotter and all his fancy history going back to when he used to play with Karl and Friedrich at school is very sick-making. As for MacSkasy with all his cited references and cross-checked “facts” makes me puke. And fuck knows how that NZ First upstart got in here with his smart-arse insights into his party, the Hindu festival calendar and other random shit. That Kelly Ellis is so pretentious writing in English and stuff. Then there’s the other chicks, they’re so emotional: they never share recipes or good housekeeping tips – bitches.
        But you’re right @JRyan, it’s the comments that are the shittest and that’s because the problem is the regulars, they just can’t help themselves.
        @FrankMacSkasy – not only does he post actual articles but he feels he has to comment all over the place like a rash, can get quite nasty when provoked, has a soft spot for @Gosman though
        @Countryboy – the first syllable of his name sums him up – expletive filled tirades, has a tendency to repeat himself ad nauseam
        @Cleangreen – never had a train-set as a child, rabid leftie cum-conspiracy theorist
        @Chooky – compulsive commenter, will comment on anything that moves, best known for +100
        @RichardChristie – the stingray of climate change, will lash out at slightest provocation
        @PhillipUre – ..half-formed sentences are his..

        ..is it ever possible to overdo rhetorical questions..?

        ..paragraphs and punctuation are right-wing totalitarian constructs..

        @JSBark – loiters around the caption competitions, general smart-arse
        @WildKatipo – tries to be logical but his leftie ideology gets the better of him
        @Lara – balanced viewpoints from having a chip on both shoulders
        @MikeinAuckland – occasionally makes sense despite being a JAFA
        @RobertAtack – we are so doomed and it’s all the Greens fault
        @Elle – conspiracy theorist, nuff said
        @Gosman – asks what he thinks are pointed questions but has no answers, plays victim when challenged, struggles with Google
        @Andrew – asks what he thinks are pointed questions but has no answers, stupendous intellect, has clever turns of phrase like “tin-foil hat”, “loonie left”

        @TheRest and the above – a mix of randoms who give a shit about justice, equality (of opportunity), a liveable planet, transparency and who deep down love this country and don’t want it sold out.

  2. Well said. I saw the same piece and was equally dumb-founded. The anti-Russian/Putin rhetoric in the MSM is really quite remarkable with its one-sided generally biased reporting. And it’s not just Henry either, it’s BBC, CNN, etc too.

    • The comments in a recent article in the Daily Mail on the Russian action in Syria were overwhelmingly in support of Putin. Very heartening to see that even the DM readership aren’t taken in by the propaganda anymore, and good to see so many are aware of who is pulling the strings of ISIS. Later Syrian pieces had comments disabled.

      I believe the public are much better informed in these last couple of years than the BBC etc would like us to think, Remember the uproar when Cameron wanted to invade Syria a couple of years ago? people are even more aware today and this awareness can now only grow thanks to R.T. and all the internet blogs.

  3. Thanks for great article. Two things – the dirge which is our breakfast TV often has me screaming at the screen in frustration. We have it on mainly to watch the time so we are not late for work and catch a bit of the so-called news. We do switch to RT and Al Jazerra a lot.
    Number two – I agree that a lot of my generation are anti-Russian but not all of us. I could never quite get the fear mongering of the Cold War. I was definitely worried about nukes but thought the yanks were more ready to push the button. The talk of the Russians invading us and turning us all into Communists just wasn’t believable to me.

  4. Thanks for reminding me why I make a point of never listening to Paul Henry and the likes! From what I heard, the Turks weren’t too bothered about Russian aircraft straying a little, the son of the US and NATO that has made mountains out of a mole hill and is Israel going to annex the Golan Heights now they’ve found oil there?

  5. I think what gets me about Putin is he is a no nonsense straight talker. He’s playing for keeps.

    If anything…the way the Russians are calling the west’s bluff is the extraordinary thing… they see what the banks are doing , what all these so called – ‘ free trade deals’ are all about..eg , TISA TTP ETC…

    I don’t like wars in the middle east and I don’t like world peace being threatened , I don’t like the neo liberal agenda and their new world order , or even Russia’s response ….

    But one thing I will say is Putin is effective and straight to the point , which , in a curious sort of way … is more a breath of fresh air than all the posturing and positioning of the west at the moment.

    And one other thing…. if I were to compare a person like Putin as a leader against the diminutive pony tail pulling USA sycophant we have currently…

    One would seem an actual leader given to making the hard calls…the other appears more like a joke… a slimy ingratiating and globally embarrassing joke.

    • Sorry but when it comes to leaders I would put Key as the lesser of two evils compared to Putin.
      If we were like Russia which has ” an actual leader given to making the hard calls…” wouldn’t we also have a repressive police state which Im sure most people on this blog would rally against? Pussy Riot? Gay rights? Freedom of speech? A massively dodgy election?
      Don’t get me wrong I’m no fan of the bomb machine known as USA, but surely Russia are just as bad?
      All of these super powers should bugger off and stop dropping bombs.

      • That we cannot say , as we always only get half the story . True , Putin cuts a scary profile…but how much is that western media beat up?

        I tend to find agreement in the last sentence…yes …these warmongering powerheads should indeed bugger off and leave the rest of humanity in peace.

      • Ahh, another defender of “pussy riot” , someone who hasn’t bothered to do a bit of research and find out them, apart from parroting what they saw on the 3news.
        Performing naked and having sex in an orthodox church isn’t a good look, esp in Russia.. Not once but several times.

      • Yes.

        Putin had Politkovskaya murdered, Key only had Campbell sacked.

        They’re both lying treacherous pieces of shit, but thus far Key has not resorted to shooting down civilian airliners. He’s still an inexecrable scumbag, but not yet as bad as Putin.

  6. The cold war antipathy to Russia was because we didn’t know what America was capable of in the cold war, ,America the good, Russia the bad.those days are gone ,only the dumb right would try to push that lie,we know how America works and how they use propaganda and blame (just like Key)
    America wants control of the world and will do anything and say anything to make people think Putin is the enemy.
    Isil is an American bought army, paid to hand Assad over to America ,Ha Ha its backfired, Putin is getting more support of the right kind,and Obama is getting the thumbs down ,,hence his desperation to put Russia down,he will say anything to get the people everywhere onside to fight Russia.
    Only dumb people like Paul Henry and Mike Hoskins would say that and being paid to say it,they both would sell their souls to the devil to be in on the prizes they think they will get from Key.
    Dont bank on it you guys, its not over yet and you could be in for a nasty surprise,Key will cut and run and he wont give a damn for you sycophants.

  7. The worst thing about this article is that every time I come to this website I have to look at Paul Henry’s mug. I’m not sure what it is about him but I’ve always found him really off-putting, right from when he first appeared and I thought he was just a bad clone of Paul Holmes.

    • Yes I agree.

      While it may certainly be useful to know the enemy, it would be so much better if we didn’t have their ugly fucking mugs posted all over our blog…


  8. Alot of people have no fucking clue that russian is only AS corrupt as america not more, we have been fed generations of rambo style propaganda. dont get me wrong putin is dodgey as fuck but meanwhile the us has a 14 year old boy chained on all fours including his neck and one reporter said he looked like “a broken sparrow” and they are allies with saudi arabia who beheaded more people in 2014 than Isis and Iran combined

  9. Paul Henry will say whatever it takes to pull in the ratings and turn a buck.

    Regards the Russia angle, I don’t see queues of refugees or migrants heading for Russia. I don’t recall seeing the queues lining up at the “in” door at the USSR, either.

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