Well I’m accustomed to a smooth ride
Or maybe I’m a dog who’s lost it’s bite;
I don’t expect to be treated like a fool no more
I don’t expect to sleep through the night
Some people say a lie’s a lie’s a lie
But I say why deny the obvious child?
Why deny the obvious child?
Paul Simon, from “The Obvious Child“.
“That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result. It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.”
Tell it like it is, Joe. I daresay we all remember examples of propaganda which, in retrospect, it is hard to believe a wide audience fell for. “We know where the weapons of mass destruction are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat”, how about that one? I remember reading a critical response to it in which the writer congratulated Donald Rumsfeld on having, with the vagueness of his description, eliminated only international waters and deep space from consideration, and laughing in delighted appreciation; good times, my, yes.
But that and other completely fabricated martial fairy-tales successfully convinced huge western audiences of the smoldering malevolence of Saddam Hussein and, by extension, of Iraqis in general, and by even further extension, of more or less all Muslims. To the extent that tens of thousands of Muslim men were forced by the Bush administration to register with the US Government – a policy which “broke up families by triggering a wave of mass deportations and instilled fear throughout Muslim communities across the country, all while proving itself wholly ineffective at accomplishing its primary task: catching terrorists.” The same reference helpfully highlights that such propaganda ‘successes’, once internalized, contribute to longstanding bias even after they are outed as propaganda – there was no shortage of support for Trump, more than a decade later, calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.
At its simplest, propaganda is little more than consistently and repeatedly expressing an allegation, while claiming it is supported by evidence, and then shouting down any source which attempts to correct the record, deflecting their arguments with insults and rhetoric. In fact, I covered the methodology in some detail on the old blog back in the Spring of 2015; re-reading it now, I find we are offered a priceless lead-in quote, from none other than Anne ‘Poland Makes Me Wet’ Applebaum.
“…[o]nce upon a time, it seemed as if the Internet would be a place of civilized and open debate; now, unedited forums often deteriorate to insult exchanges. Like it or not, this matters: Multiple experiments have shown that perceptions of an article, its writer or its subject can be profoundly shaped by anonymous online commentary, especially if it is harsh. One group of researchers found that rude comments “not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story itself.” A digital analyst at Atlantic Media also discovered that people who read negative comments were more likely to judge that an article was of low quality and, regardless of the content, to doubt the truth of what it stated. “
It’s hard to argue with the forthrightness and accuracy of that opinion – but Annie was complaining about commentary which criticizes western intervention and regime-change operations, and the low-lifes in those instances were – you guessed it – Russian trolls and ‘spreaders of disinformation’. The west prides itself on open forums, respect for a wide range of opinion and a willingness to entertain alternate points of view. It would never stoop to trolling as a means of silencing dissent.
Ha, ha. Perhaps that was true once, but that kind of integrity went out of fashion in the west at approximately the same time as the top hat. Anyway, we’ll be coming back to this post later; I want to show you something. But for now, we’re going to look at a contemporary phenomenon – the tremendous investment by the west, and most especially the western media, in breathing life into propaganda from Ukraine. In the example I’d like to discuss, the underlying theme is Ukraine’s brash public-relations technique of spinning every single negative thing that happens as having been the fault of The Russians, from the pitiful murders of ‘collaborators’ in Bucha to the damage to civilian apartment buildings by falling or uncontrolled air-defense missiles fired by panicky Ukrainian crews…and the west’s role in polishing those stories’ credibility.
Long before what looks to have been an S-300 air-defense missile – designed and built in The Country That Doesn’t Make Anything, according to Obama – landed in neighbouring Poland and caused a couple of fatalities, missiles said to have been S-300’s struck a couple of apartment buildings in Kuh-yiv, and caused some fatalities among Ukrainian non-combatants. But when life hands you lemons, the smart move is to make lemonade, they say, and Ukraine quickly spun the situation so that the diabolical Russians had re-engineered some of their S-300 air-defense missiles so they could be used to attack ground targets such as apartment buildings full of helpless, shivering civilians. A bonus of this trope was that it could be used to argue Russia is running out of precision weapons, and has to repurpose existing stocks to do a job they were never designed for; the S-300 is old now. But journalists have given it new and malevolent life, and ‘S-300’ is apparently the only weapon system they can remember. So they make up for it by writing lurid fan-fiction about it. Continue reading “The S-300 ‘Ground Attack’ Capability: Fabricated by Ukraine, Amplified by Western Media, Totally Fictitious.”