Palm Trees Sprout in Moscow

Moscow demonstrations protesting recent elections didn’t portray Russia as heading toward another revolution, so Fox News substituted video footage of violent demonstrations in Athens, complete with scenes of streets on fire. A major clue was the appearance of palm trees in Moscow. This blatant propaganda – dismissed by Fox News as an accident – is particularly dangerous in light of John McCain’s incendiary warnings that Vladimir Putin could end up meeting Gaddafi’s fate. While Gaddafi was killed by Libyan rebels, Western airpower was essential in allowing that to happen, making Russian fears about the West’s intentions seem less paranoid.

About Martin Hellman

I am a professor at Stanford University, best known for my invention of public key cryptography -- the technology that protects the secure part of the Internet, such as electronic banking. But, since 1982, my primary interest has been how fallible human beings can survive possessing nuclear weapons, where even one mistake could be catastrophic. My latest project is a book, co-written with my wife Dorothie, with the audacious subtitle "Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet." It's on Amazon and a free PDF can be downloaded from its website:
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8 Responses to Palm Trees Sprout in Moscow

  1. zach says:

    “Fair and Balanced” news becomes “Biased and misinformative” news.

  2. zach says:

    I’m curious in either case what Fox News hoped to achieve by disseminating bogus and patronizing information on this level?

    • Nuclear Risk says:

      I cannot be sure what Fox News was trying to do, but have a pretty good idea how this false reporting plays out in some quarters in Moscow, including probably Vladimir Putin: From their perspective, they see the US throwing its weight around in the world, taking down regimes at will (especially Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi), without UN approval. Especially given McCain’s warning to Putin that he could meet Gaddafi’s fate (, Fox’s error raises concerns about where this hubris will stop, and how Russia should be prepared to respond if it carries over in some form to their government. Our Ambassador meeting with the Russian political opposition on his first day in residence didn’t help either. Very dangerous behavior on our part given that Russia can destroy us in under an hour. It wouldn’t use that threat unless its vital national interests were at stake, but the McCain threat certainly fits that mold.

      • zach says:

        First of all, I spent many any hour in search of exactly the service you’re providing in this forum. Needless to say, sorting through the net to find information pertaining to risk analysis on the topic of nuclear weapons as opposed to a sensationalist, and even a romanticized view of nuclear weapons can be challenging and frustrating. That being said, thank you for your tireless effort to drive this issue to the public sector.

        As far as what was said earlier, I would agree that discussing intent on the part of Fox News is purely speculation and would undermine a debate on the real issue. That being said, I would hope politicians would choose their words with consideration on how leaders of other nation states may respond and interprete such comments.

        Given what little I know of Russian history other than it’s historically hostile neighbors and the lack of transparency of the middle defense shield just to name a few

      • zach says:

        Sorry, hit the wrong button. “Middle” should be “missile” also. Anyway, based on that, what a stupid thing to say and I would have thought McCain would have more sense than to make statements like that, especially in a public domain such as twitter. You’re right, mouthing off and making aggressive postures towards a nation with the largest nuclear stockpile doesn’t make sense from a national security standpoint.

  3. Nuclear Risk says:

    Zach, I’m glad you find the blog helpful in separating the usual, emotionally charged news coverage from the facts. You might want to check out the course notes for my seminar “Nuclear Weapons, Risk and Hope,” at Only the most recent quarter’s handouts are relevant since they are updates of the earlier versions. There’s a lot of information on North Korea, Iran, Russia, and Georgia that shows the conventional wisdom is often conventional mythology. I provide links to original documents so you can check out what I say. Of course, even original documents can be in error, but when there are multiple sources, that’s improbable.

  4. I applaud your efforts; have been personally interested in this essential and primary goal for over 50 years (including as director and cochairman of the “Scientists Committee for Nuclear Information” and “scientists Institute For Public Information” some decades ago). Unfortunately, I am old and not well and am deluged with things to read, so I will not currently subscribe to your publication. But keep it up and the best of luck!

  5. Gerson, Thanks for your encouragement. While you say you’re not able to do much on this issue these days, you can be very proud of what the medical community did in the 1980’s. IPPNW and its American affiliate, PSR, played a key role in disabusing the public of its misconception that World War III would just be a continuation of the first and second acts in that macabre play. Martin

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