Ukraine: a tale of two narratives

25 Sep

When America arms Ukraine, we get a lot for a little. Putin is an enemy of America. We’ve used 5% of our defense budget to arm Ukraine, and with it, they’ve destroyed 50% of Putin’s Army. We’ve done all this by sending weapons from storage, not our troops. 1 The more Ukraine weakens Russia, the more it also weakens Russia’s closest ally, China. America needs to stand strong against our enemies, that’s why Republicans in Congress must continue to support Ukraine.

Bill Kristol, US media pundit and neo-con, staunch advocate of the war on Iraq


Are you a dyed in the wool coincidence theorist? Their name is legion but you’re still reading, so may well have noticed that the two narratives used to sell America’s insanely dangerous war on Russia to its own citizens are, beyond reasonable doubt, mutually incompatible.

Narrative One has it that Russia launched an unprovoked attack on a neighbouring state. The USA being a beacon of freedom and decency, and on both counts opposed to the tyranny and Hitlerian plans of the one man show which is the Russian Federation, it altruistically stepped in to enable that neighbouring state to defend itself.

Now this, as set out in scores of posts – most recently here – is fact-defiant baloney but with every wing of corporate media fully onboard, most folk in the west bought it. People who two years ago couldn’t have placed Ukraine on a map – and many who still can’t – began cheering for a war whose stakes, given that The Enemy is a nuclear power, could not be higher.

But a war once advertised as being a walk-over is now approaching month-22, with no end in sight and a western equipped and funded Ukrainian army on the ropes, the utter failure of its much vaunted counter-offensive now acknowledged in drip feed fashion by some sections of corporate media.

Yes, on the ropes: Bill Kristol’s bragging, in my opening quote, of a Russian Army half destroyed is no less risible than John McCain’s talk of “a gas station with nukes”,  or Joe Biden’s promise to “reduce the rouble to rubble”.  But that’s beside the point here.

Kiev’s plight may trigger the most dangerous stage yet of this war, as Team Biden shows every sign of doubling down and raising the stakes, but this too is beside the point I’m making here. Which is that human charity has its limits. (Witness the ever shriller response of the peoples of Fortress Europe to refugees from war zones ‘we’ created, as they risk all to reach our shores.) Not only ordinary Europeans (the principal losers in Washington-Wall Street’s war of dollar hegemony) but ordinary Americans too are wobbling. Is it right, they ask, to pour unaccounted billions into yet another war thousands of miles away, even as the Fed raises interest rates “to fight inflation” (in truth, supply not demand driven) while jobs go literally south, and basic healthcare is an unaffordable luxury for millions of Americans whose kids go to bed hungry?

Cue for Narrative Two. By a miraculous coincidence, we now learn, US altruism just happens – further proof, if such were needed, that this is a nation hand-picked by The Almighty to lead the world from darkness into light – to benefit its own citizens!

Never mind the fact Washington-Wall Street’s war of dollar hegemony is not in the interests of most Americans. That too is beside the point. Said point being the willingness of the greatest spin machine in history to sell mutually contradictory explanations of its wars. My cue to hand over for the umpteenth time to one Caitlin Johnstone. This time on the subject of …

Bill Kristol’s Refreshingly Honest Ukraine War Ad

The Bill Kristol-led group “Republicans for Ukraine” has released a TV ad to help drum up GOP support for Washington’s proxy war against Russia, and it’s surprisingly honest about what this war is really about: advancing US strategic interests using Ukrainians as sacrificial pawns.

Here’s a transcript:

“When America arms Ukraine, we get a lot for a little. Putin is an enemy of America. We’ve used 5% of our defense budget to arm Ukraine, and with it, they’ve destroyed 50% of Putin’s Army. We’ve done all this by sending weapons from storage, not our troops. The more Ukraine weakens Russia, the more it also weakens Russia’s closest ally, China. America needs to stand strong against our enemies, that’s why Republicans in Congress must continue to support Ukraine.”

“Republicans for Ukraine” was launched last month by “Defending Democracy Together”, another Kristol-led narrative management operation which is funded by oligarchs like Pierre Omidyar. Kristol, who as a neoconservative thought leader played a pivotal role in pushing for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, tweeted on Saturday that the ad “will air on the Sunday shows tomorrow in DC.”

One of the dumbest things the empire asks us to believe is that this war simultaneously (A) was completely unprovoked and (B) just coincidentally happens to massively advance the strategic interests of the government accused of provoking it. From the moment Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 westerners were aggressively hammered over and over and over again by the mass media with the uniform propaganda message that this was an “unprovoked invasion”, but ever since then we’ve also been receiving these peculiar messages from US empire managers and spinmeisters that this war is helping the United States crush its geopolitical enemies and advance its interests abroad.

This bizarre two-step occurs because the US-centralized empire needs to convey two self-evidently contradictory messages to the public at all times:
1. that the US is an innocent little flower who just wants to help its good friends the Ukrainians protect their democracy from the murderous Russians who invaded solely because they are evil and hate freedom, and
2. that it’s in the interest of Americans to continue this war.

The second point is required because the message that the US is merely an innocent passive witness to the violence in Ukraine necessarily causes certain political factions to ask, “Okay, so what are we doing there then? Why are we pouring all this money into something that has nothing to do with us?” So another narrative is required to explain that backing this proxy war also just so happens to be a massive boon to US strategic interests abroad while creating American jobs manufacturing weapons at home.

And of course this war advances US strategic interests. Of course it does. Only an idiot would believe the US is pouring weapons into another country because it loves the people who live there and wants them to be free, and that it is only by pure coincidence that this happens to kill a lot of Russians, bolster NATO, and advance US energy interests in Europe. It doesn’t benefit normal Americans at home, but it absolutely does serve the interests of the globe-spanning empire that’s centralized around Washington. That’s why the empire deliberately provoked it.

Empire managers were openly discussing the ways a war in Ukraine would directly benefit the US empire long before the invasion. In 2019 a Pentagon-funded Rand Corporation paper titled “Extending Russia — Competing from Advantageous Ground” detailed how the empire can use proxy warfare, economic warfare and other Cold War tactics to push its longtime geopolitical foe to the brink without costing American lives or sparking a nuclear conflict. The US Army-commissioned paper mentioned Ukraine hundreds of times, and explicitly discussed how a war there could be used to promote sanctions against Moscow and attack Russia’s energy interests in Europe.

In December of 2021 John Deni of NATO propaganda firm The Atlantic Council authored a piece for The Wall Street Journal titled “The Strategic Case for Risking War in Ukraine,” subtitled “An invasion would be a diplomatic, economic and military mistake for Putin. Let him make it if he must.” Deni argued that “there are good strategic reasons for the West to stake out a hard-line approach” against Moscow and refuse to negotiate or back down over Ukraine, because if doing so provokes Russia to invade it would “forge an even stronger anti-Russian consensus across Europe,” “result in another round of more debilitating economic sanctions that would further weaken Russia’s economy,” and “sap the strength and morale of Russia’s military while undercutting Mr. Putin’s domestic popularity and reducing Russia’s soft power globally.”

The minds on the inside of the empire were talking about how this war would benefit the US before the invasion, and they’ve been talking about how much it benefits the US ever since. As the Washington Post’s David Ignatius put it this past July:

these 18 months of war have been a strategic windfall, at relatively low cost (other than for the Ukrainians). The West’s most reckless antagonist has been rocked. NATO has grown much stronger with the additions of Sweden and Finland. Germany has weaned itself from dependence on Russian energy and, in many ways, rediscovered its sense of values. NATO squabbles make headlines, but overall, this has been a triumphal summer for the alliance.

The managers of the empire are getting everything they want out of this war. In public they rend their garments and cry crocodile tears and call it a terrible criminal atrocity, but every now and then they look at the camera and flash it a quick Fleabag-style grin.

They knew exactly what they were doing when they provoked this war, and they know exactly what they’re doing by keeping it going. 

And they’re loving every minute of it.

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  1. For the human costs to Ukraine, half revealed by Kristol’s monstrous crowing, see my post Down to the last Ukrainian.

3 Replies to “Ukraine: a tale of two narratives

  1. The Official Narrative is having a bit of a bad time of late.

    Whilst much of the attention has focused on the PR debacle in Canada* in which an entire Parliament – with very strict vetting and security rules – of self styled ‘Honourable’ representatives proceeded to give a rapturous standing ovation to a 98 year old Waffen Ukrainian SS veteran less than a week ago, this short video is being rapidly swept under the carpet….

    ….as those responsible for this**:….

    ….continued below (looks like comments with more than one URL link cannot get past the spam filter nowadays)

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