22A010 The First Casualty by Jim Davies, 3/8/2022
In war, as is often said, the first casualty is truth; and at no time has that been more applicable than in the present Russo-Ukrainian conflict.
Ever since the USSR collapsed, the military club of countries called NATO, said originally to be an alliance to resist and oppose the Soviets, has expanded. The whole of Eastern Europe has joined, as each of them shook off many of the shackles of Socialism and so became far more prosperous.
But adopting a measure of capitalism, with all the benefits it brings, needs no kind of military component; free trade among all those countries is fine, but the threat from the USSR disappeared in 1990. NATO is a military outfit, so should have been dissolved shortly afterwards. It's anachronistic - yet it continues to exist. From the Russian viewpoint it's reasonable to see it as a menace.
When in the Obama era there began talk of welcoming Ukraine as a member too, that evident threat was especially obvious: the country lies to the South of Russia, so an encirclement is in progress. To its North is the Arctic and then Canada and the US, to the West is NATO, and if that's extended to the South then only the East remains, and while that's vast, it awaits development.
The West-friendly Ukraine government refused to allow Russophiles in the Eastern part of the country to secede or transfer to Moscow, and wasted seven years of opportunity to settle the "Donbass" issue there. When last month Donetsk and Lugansk seceded anyway, Putin intervened at their request. Ever since, he has been excoriated in the West, blamed as an aggressor. Not true!
Russia Today is an on-line newspaper funded by the RusGov, and I like reading it for a fresh perspective, and because it had a lively reader-comment forum, unlike the News Hour (funded by the USGov) which canceled its forum last year. Yet in country after country, RT has been banned - and last week, even Disqus crossed RT off its list of sites, making it a lot harder to exchange opinions. A new adjective has therefore been born: "disqusting."
One example of a pro-Russian view not familiar to us is this 6-minute video on "what you don't know about the war in Ukraine." I hope it's not been deleted before you read this.
With incredible folly, EU countries (which depend on Russia for fuel!) have been busy cutting off the means to transfer money, embassies have been closed, air routes canceled, pipelines shut down. At this writing, WW3 has not begun; if it had, you'd not be there to read this, nor I here to write it. But everything the "West" has done, in its fit of pique about the frustration of its encirclement plan, suggests it might. Perhaps the point is best made by supposing that the ChinGov were to court Mexico and persuade it to allow the placement of nuclear missiles, pointing North. I doubt if the FedGov's response would be as measured as Putin's.
However my purpose here is not to promote the Russian viewpoint but rather t0 note that it exists, and that it's being methodically suppressed; one aspect of the truth is being slaughtered, as the first casualty in this war. The trick is heavily to promote what the rulers wish to spread, while systematically closing off all rival views. The trick is by no means limited to times of war.
Consider Covid. We now know that it is in reality a nasty bug of some kind, on its own about as lethal as influenza; but certainly not a plague, or pandemic. This became clear quite early on - by March 2020, in my case. Yet this perception was suppressed savagely, by Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google and all the other "news" channels controlled by government and its pals. The "official" narrative was relentlessly broadcast every day; other perceptions were silenced.
Consider WW1, the origin of all the major conflicts of the 20th Century. The US had no need or business interfering, but the FedGov decided otherwise and pacifists were actually put in prison! No contrary opinion was allowed!
Consider the school system. Since the mid-1800s almost every child has been taught whatever government wants him to learn; by compelling attendance and imposing taxes to pay the cost, it has simultaneously organized propaganda for all of everyone's formative years, and closed off almost all competing ideas.
Consider 1798. An undeclared naval war with France was under way, and although the ink on Amendment One was still damp, opponents were savagely silenced with the Sedition Act, which forbade anyone to “write, print, utter or publish...any false, scandalous and malicious writing...with intent to defame the...government.” Once again: shout loudly, and gag the opposition. The trick is not new, it's at least as old as the Union. The Act expired in 1801. The trick did not.