The cliché that truth is the first casualty of war may be a tired one but it is still true.
*Also listen to the audio version of this article on Spotify HERE.
But in the war in Ukraine, if truth loses out, then hypocrisy is surely the biggest winner. The war shows this to be the case. Sides get taken in war. The protagonist states win allies to their banner. Third-party countries quickly "prove" to their people that right rests with one side or another. The media quickly steps in to do its bit and heaven help any dissenting voice. Such has been the trajectory of the protracted war in Ukraine.
Our own government, in close alignment with the USA, NATO and the majority of the West, quickly made the determination that it was a relatively black-and-white affair. There is a "goodie" and a "baddie" and that is as much as the people need to know. The media speaks with one voice. There is more than a hint of Animal Farm in this. ‘Four legs good, two legs bad.’ Russia, we must believe, invaded Ukraine to grab territory, to grow an empire and to return to a faded imperial past.
The courageous Ukrainian people, we must believe, are yearning for freedom, for justice and so they fight back to preserve democracy. It is a nice story, but as more and more authoritative but "dissident" voices have shown, there is a whole lot more to it than cheap slogans.
Three names among these "dissidents" stand out in the current propagandised media world. Seymour Hersch, Jeffrey Sachs and John Pilger. It is a terrible indictment of how distorted reality has become that these most eminent writers and multiple award-winning truth-tellers have been shunted to the sidelines, made virtual pariahs, and ridiculed in some rather important circles.
‘Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ Orwell was warning against the rise of authoritarianism and of the manipulation of thought. Both seem to have arrived.
Those giant figures have repeatedly stated a simple fact and a fact made more obvious with every passing blood-stained week of this unnecessary war. The fact, which cannot be denied is that the war is a proxy war between the USA, NATO and its allies including Australia on one side, and Russia on the other.
The forces that are waging this war may not have committed battle troops to Ukraine, but they train their forces, both in Ukraine and abroad, have special forces units inside Ukraine, and have spent well over $100 billion on providing materiel to ensure that the war, is, if not won, then will result in the economic and social destruction of Russia. Ukraine, in such a scenario, is simply collateral damage.
The hypocrisy, the propagandising and the manner in which collective thought is created and dissent is silenced are complete. This Orwellian view of the world would be questioned by Orwell as being too improbable. No country, regardless of its own worldview is permitted to interact with the "enemy". There has been much said about whether the Government of the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) will or will not enter into an arms deal with Russia.
The DPRK has been effectively the subject of sanctions since 1950. It believes that its existence is only guaranteed by perpetually building a deterrence to attack. It sees almost endless war games and drills close to its borders. It believes its sovereignty, its very existence, is threatened. It sees no problem with dealing with an enemy of the United States.
White House security adviser Jake Sullivan in a press briefing promised that if Pyongyang provides weapons to Moscow, it is ‘not going to reflect well on North Korea and they will pay a price for this in the international community'.
The two recalcitrant states in this case are both sovereign nations, are both represented at the United Nations and if such a deal eventuates will be doing no more than what 49 nations are doing in pouring weapons, munitions and expertise into Ukraine to assist in the proxy war.
If the media were not quite so blinkered and committed to their role as propagandists for the war, then such a hypocritical position would be clear. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong recently stated that "Russia cannot be allowed to infringe upon another country’s sovereignty". She is quite right. But in the spirit of hypocrisy and hyperbole, the U.S. pledge to impose all manner of penalties on the DPRK for exercising its own sovereign rights is to admit that the world has run mad.
Australian drones have been used in attacks on Russia. Apparently, this is not an "infringement" of sovereignty.
The war is a fact of life. It is a lamentable fact of life. It would be preferable for the war not to have begun. Reason, logic and humanity would demand that the war end. Every call to sense and humanity has been rejected. The most obvious and possible call came from China and its 12-point peace plan. The USA and its allies would not consider it.
Russia, rightly or not, believes that it is facing an existential crisis. The giants of investigative journalism, who have been all but cancelled, silenced from mainstream media and deemed to be irrelevant agree with the basis of Russia’s claims and are wary of the way this proxy war is being prosecuted. The Ukrainian people have been "sold a pup". They are being used and manipulated by the West, NATO and primarily by the USA.
Truth died on day one of this awful war. In its place, hypocrisy has unfurled its banner over the battlefield.
*This article is also available on audio here:
Dr William Briggs is a political economist. His special areas of interest lie in political theory and international political economy. He has been, variously, a teacher, journalist and political activist.
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