Sense on Ukraine

It isn’t just the arms industry of course which boosts wars.

The media industry does too. Sensationalism, controversy, dramatic soundbites make people buy more newspapers. The kind of intelligent, informed, humane commentary here [link above] is what the newspapers should be full of. But – for commercial reasons – it isn’t profitable. It is more profitable to play to people’s prejudices and fan them, than to give people serious ‘food for thought’ – because, unfortunately, more people will buy your newspaper in the former case. Blaring war messages just sells more newspapers.

Suppressing reality – substituting narratives

This is the major task of the Western media. I came across an interesting example today.

One of the Russian narrative lines about their invasion of Ukraine is that the Ukrainian military is a threat to them. That it is saturated by Nazis and ideologically anti-Russian. (Lavrov recently asked the British Minister of Defence, who had just given Ukraine a large amount of anti-armour weapons, “Do you know who you are giving them to?”) Is there any truth to this line? Well; you certainly won’t find it at an editorial level in Western media. It is not part of the narrative.

However, in 2014 when asked why the US was not sending anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine President Obama said:

Can we be certain that any lethal aid that we provide Ukraine is used properly, doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, does not lead to over-aggressive actions that can’t be sustained by the Ukrainians?” Obama told reporters at the White House after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “What kinds of reactions does it prompt, not simply from the separatists but from the Russians? Those are all issues that have to be considered.

That is – there are rogue and unstable elements in the Ukrainian armed forces who, if given high-tech weapons, could take it into their heads to launch “over-aggressive actions” against Russia. This explanation was not offered by a conspiracy-theorist blogger or by RT. It was offered by the President of the United States. And it directly confirms at least this part of the Russian narrative. (Of course the narrative is predicated on their annexation of Crimea and support for Donbas).

While the West has not supplied advanced anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine in recent years they have been increasingly supplying weapons. The Russians will have been watching this and, according to the President of the US, had reason to be concerned.

The point is simple and obvious. Some at least of the Russian concerns in relation to Ukraine are/were valid. Simply rejecting everything was not a good strategy – at least not for Ukraine.

Craig Murray on Ukraine – how can the war end?

At least in the UK there is one intelligent and humane commentator on international affairs. Craig is also a better writer than me. He provides balanced, objective, coverage informed by a knowledge of history and international law. I don’t necessarily agree with every single idea – but overwhelmingly his intelligent balanced analysis is desperately needed. (It is no coincidence that Craig recently spent time in prison for his political writing).

Craig Murray on Ukraine.

A normal European country

I can hardly write – what is happening is so terrible.

But one small note. This is an article in the Guardian by someone who works for Chatham House – a think tank in London. I don’t know who is behind them – on the Funding page of their website there is no information. So much for transparency.

The author is dreaming that the invasion of Ukraine will flounder and as a result Putin will fall and Russia will finally become a “normal European country”.

And herein lies the rub. Do they really not see that this is their imperialism? Yes – some Russians would like Russia to be a “normal European country” – but this is a small minority. The large majority are happy with Russia being Russia. Do they not understand anything? Putin just wants Ukraine to be a “normal Slavic country”. Why is it ok for the author to dream of Russia being a “normal European country” but not ok for Putin to dream of his neighbours being a “normal Slavic country”?

The Western way is not the only way. There are other peoples, other traditions, other ‘paths to development’.

These people should be made to repeat this 1000x every morning – and then the world might be a better place.

Which is not (necessary disclaimer) to say that I am ‘for’ the Russian action in Ukraine. But a little bit of an attempt to understand the other from their point of view, and to assign them the rights you claim for yourself, would go a long way.