Western media and the war on truth in Ukraine | Russia–Ukraine War

Who wins the war in Ukraine depends on who speaks.

Predictably, Russia says it is winning as expected, while the US says Ukraine is winning a surprise victory, thanks to its steadfast resistance and Western support.

On the face of it, authoritarian Russia cannot be trusted with the facts, let alone the truth about the war, while the liberal West inspires greater credibility because it allows free and independent inquiry. But in reality, as Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu said, “all war is based on deception.” Neither side can or should be trusted to reduce the fog of war, as both are fully engaged in psychological warfare, which is essential to winning the comprehensive war in Ukraine.

In fact, both sides propagate their own selective facts and myths, while censoring counterclaims, as each must maintain an appearance of progress in order to justify great sacrifices in blood or treasure. And both sides must raise the bar in order to reinforce the public resolve behind their goals, which so far have ruled out any serious effort towards a diplomatic solution.

Russia hopes to degrade the morale of the Ukrainian resistance and deflate European support for a war that cannot be won, while the United States wants to bolster Ukrainian and European enthusiasm for a winnable war, even if privately the American officials doubt that Ukraine can recover all of its occupied territories.

While Russian media have little or no choice but to repeat the official line, Western media have a choice but choose to trust NATO and Pentagon memos and reports, regardless of their intentions. Take for example the statement of an anonymous (why anonymous?) senior Pentagon official who: “Russia has committed almost 85% of its army to the war in Ukraine” and “has removed military cover from other areas on its border and in the world ” ; Russia “still hasn’t figured out how to use combined arms effectively”; Russia “causes hundreds of victims a day”. Among the Russian military dead were “thousands” of lieutenants and captains, “hundreds” of colonels and “many” generals.

Now, I have no idea if any of these claims or others like them are true, nor do I suspect the officials who propagate it or the journalists who broadcast it. But it is there, shaping the opinions of the public, elites and pundits, most of whom believe Ukraine is capable of achieving some sort of upheaval, or even an outright victory over its vastly more powerful neighbor. But the Western and especially Anglo-American media seem to suffer from a short, or should I say selective memory when taking the official line at face value, as if the official deception in yesterday’s wars in Afghanistan, in Iraq or Vietnam, had no bearing on covering today’s war in Ukraine.

In 2019, the Washington Post newspaper revealed that senior US officials had failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making optimistic statements they knew to be false and hiding hard evidence. that the war had become unwinnable. In other words, they lied. But the media, think tanks and influential experts have continued to rely on these “officials”; even after it was revealed that they also lied about another war – the war in Iraq, which was also fought under false pretenses and fabricated evidence.

Official deception was even worse during the Cold War. For example, the “Pentagon Papers” published about half a century ago revealed that the US government was guilty of a huge cover-up regarding the terrible losses of the Vietnam War, which left some 55,000 Americans dead and more. of one million Vietnamese. Any expectation that US media and public confidence in the government’s stance on wars was “forever diminished” proved premature, as official lies about “dirty wars” in Asia and Central America continued. to be widely reported as fact.

Even today, as the United States Special Operations Command covertly deploys special forces across Africa to wage “shadow wars”, it blatantly preaches “a free and transparent press”. We don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

It is therefore not surprising that governments, whether autocratic or democratic, lie about wars for tactical or strategic reasons. In fact, there’s a fancy name for it – stratagem, which means deliberately sending false signals to destabilize the enemy while reassuring one’s own side.

What is shocking is how the “free press” in the “free world”, which, to its credit, has helped expose much of the official deception in the past, such as in the “Pentagon Papers and the “Afghan Papers,” is adamant about echoing and amplifying the official line as if it were complicit in the war.

Watching journalists and pundits from respected American and British journals exhaust synonyms of fascist, evil and dangerous to describe the Russian Putin, with little or no effort at balance or objectivity, one is inclined to believe that the Western media have largely enlisted themselves in the NATO crusade against Putin’s power. Russia to victory. But what does “victory” imply here: liberating all of Ukraine? Or weaken Russia to the point that it no longer threatens other European countries?

The difference cannot be overstated, as NATO’s ultimate goal is to defeat Russia and deter China from following in its footsteps, whatever the cost to Ukraine. That is why both parties seem determined to continue the fight whatever the cost. Russia hopes that time will force a weakened Ukraine and a tottering Europe to blink first and eventually back down. And the United States wants the Ukrainians to fight whether or not a “victory” is attainable, as long as the war depletes the Russian military and weakens its economy. He is betting Putin’s Russia will crack in Ukraine just as the Soviet Union was imploding after a decade of war against the US-backed armed uprising in Afghanistan. But again, Ukraine is not Afghanistan; irrelevant, and Russia does not see it as a disposable geopolitical asset.

So even if Ukraine did in fact pull off a surprise upheaval against the invading Russian forces and forced Moscow into an unexpected war of attrition, it remains far from certain that it could sustain its counteroffensive for much longer. six months, let alone six years.

The ongoing battle for Kherson may provide a clearer signal of where things are headed. But as long as Western military support remains robust but defensive in nature so as not to risk a nuclear confrontation with Russia, expect the destructive war of attrition to continue in the medium term, or reach a tense stalemate at best. , no form of decisive victory on either side.

Did someone say diplomacy…?!

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