How Do You Know Who To Believe And Who's Playing You?
Last night at the low energy/poorly attended, Trump-headlined rally for Georgia losers, Señor Trumpanzee praised his authoritarian role models: Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-Un and, of course, Vladimir Putin, the man who put him in the White House in 2016. During his rambling routine, Señor T asserted that "The smartest one gets to the top. That didn't work so well recently in our country. But they ask me, 'Is Putin smart?' Yes, Putin was smart. And I actually thought he was going to be negotiating. I said, 'That's a hell of a way to negotiate, put 200,000 soldiers on the border.'" He just can't help himself; they're his peeps-- and they represent his own aspirations.
Writing for Informed Consent this morning, Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom reacted to Biden's slip of the tongue-- if it was that-- about Putin having to leave office. She pointed out that "mass opposition on its own is likely insufficient to produce regime change in Russia. Organized Russian opposition to Putin has faced crackdowns in recent years that has left their ranks thin and in disarray, with their chief leader, Alexei Navalny in prison for years to come. Many liberal-leaning Russians are also fleeing the country while they can. The defection of powerful elites, rather than civil dissent, is almost always necessary to remove an authoritarian regime. The split is essentially between 'hardliners' who will defend the regime by any means, and 'softliners' who have their doubts and want reform. Research also shows that in personalist autocracies like Russia’s-- regimes in which nearly all power lies in the hands of a single person-- dictators rarely relinquish power through negotiation." It's why I've been saying all along that it's likely to take Putin's death to end the invasion.
I want to move west to Ukraine for the rest of this discussion. If you have been reading DWT for the last month, you probably know that I am pro-Ukraine enough to have considered going there to fight Russians-- or at least to dream about it and imagine that the struggle there is a version of the Spanish Civil War's romantic (and losing) battle to stop fascism. I am also sympathetic to Zelenskyy's desperate arguments about Biden-- and NATO-- being too cowardly to stop Russia. They seem to revel in bleeding Russia-- like they did in Afghanistan-- but not to jump in and fight the Russians for the sake of a non-NATO country. So the fear will be overcome when knocking on Lithuanian, Estonian and Latvian doors but not Ukraine's? Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia have no military capacity at all, whereas Ukraine is putting up some kind of a fight-- more on that below-- and is asking for jets and tanks if the West continues to refuse to create a No-Fly Zone (a hot war between NATO and Russia).
Speaking after U.S. President Joe Biden said in a lacerating speech that Russian President Vladimir Putin could not stay in power-- words the White House immediately sought to downplay-- Zelenskyy lashed out Sunday at the West’s “ping-pong about who and how should hand over jets” and other weapons while Russian missile attacks kill and trap civilians.
“I’ve talked to the defenders of Mariupol today. I’m in constant contact with them. Their determination, heroism and firmness are astonishing,” Zelenskyy said in a video address, referring to the besieged southern city that has suffered some of the war’s greatest deprivations and horrors. “If only those who have been thinking for 31 days on how to hand over dozens of jets and tanks had 1% of their courage.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to the U. S., Oksana Markarova, said on NBC’s Meet the Press that her country had heard Biden “loud and clear.”
“Now, it’s all up to all of us to stop Putin while it’s still local in Ukraine because this war is not only about Ukraine,” she said, but “an attack on democracy.”
...Ukraine says that to defeat Russia, the West must provide fighter jets and not just missiles and other military equipment. A proposal to transfer Polish planes to Ukraine via the United States was scrapped amid NATO concerns about being drawn into direct fighting.
In his pointed remarks, Zelenskyy accused Western governments of being “afraid to prevent this tragedy. Afraid to simply make a decision.”
“So, who is in charge of the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it still Moscow, thanks to its scare tactics?” he asked. “Our partners must step up their aid to Ukraine.”
A couple of days ago, The Atlantic published an essay by author and decorated ex-marine Elliot Ackerman, Ukraine's Three-to-One Advantage, asserting that "the Ukrainian military has convincingly displayed the superiority of an anti-platform-centric method of warfare." They're destroying Russian tanks with hand-held Javelins, while the Russian brittle, unimaginative, top-down battle tactics disintegrate in the face of unexpected maneuvers. The Russian military, he wrote "has never embraced the decentralized mission-style command-and-control structure that is the hallmark of NATO militaries, and that the Ukrainians have since adopted." But what Ackerman is getting to is that it's the Ukrainians' spirit or morale against a foreign invader that makes them formidable.
“The Russians don’t empower their soldiers,” Zagorodnyuk explained. “They tell their soldiers to go from Point A to Point B, and only when they get to Point B will they be told where to go next, and junior soldiers are rarely told the reason they are performing any task. This centralized command and control can work, but only when events go according to plan. When the plan doesn’t hold together, their centralized method collapses. No one can adapt, and you get things like 40-mile-long traffic jams outside Kyiv.”
He concluded by writing about "the psychology of Ukraine’s military. Napoleon, who fought many battles in this part of the world, observed that 'the moral is to the physical as three is to one.'... In Ukraine-- at least in this first chapter of the war-- Napoleon’s words have held true, proving in many ways decisive. In my earlier conversation with Zagorodnyuk, as he and I went through the many reforms and technologies that had given the Ukrainian military its edge, he was quick to point out the one variable he believed trumped all others. 'Our motivation-- it is the most important factor, more important than anything. We’re fighting for the lives of our families, for our people, and for our homes. The Russians don’t have any of that, and there’s nowhere they can go to get it.'"
And now the hard part, at least for me. I've written about this poor brainwashed friend of mine in Florida who, when he isn't being programmed by Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, gets everything he thinks (and parrots) directly from a Russian customer of his, a Russian customer who cheerfully admits that he worships Putin. Most of the stuff is pathetic propaganda, but somethings it's actually pretty good propaganda-- good, meaning effective-- like this piece about... Ukrainian propaganda. The Russians did a really good job on this one. My brainwashed friend kept babbling about how the publication and journalist are "left wing" and how he has researched it so he knew. Mint Press News is definitely leftist but definitely not a trustworthy source, secretly financed by anti-American deep pockets. The author of the piece in question, Dan Cohen, worked for RT.
None of that makes it less worth reading than the Washington Post or NY Times. It's just important to know what you're reading and where the bias lies. Cohen wrote that "Since the Russian offensive inside Ukraine commenced on February 24, the Ukrainian military has cultivated the image of a plucky little army standing up to the Russian Goliath. To bolster the perception of Ukrainian military mettle, Kiev has churned out a steady stream of sophisticated propaganda aimed at stirring public and official support from Western countries. The campaign includes language guides, key messages, and hundreds of propaganda posters, some of which contain fascist imagery and even praise Neo-Nazi leaders." Here's an example calling Czar Nicholas, Lenin, Stalin and Putin incarnations of the same “Mental Moskovian Dragon
Behind Ukraine’s public relations effort is an army of foreign political strategists, Washington DC lobbyists, and a network of intelligence-linked media outlets.
Ukraine’s propaganda strategy earned it praise from a NATO commander who told the Washington Post, “They are really excellent in stratcom-- media, info ops, and also psy-ops.” The Post ultimately conceded that “Western officials say that while they cannot independently verify much of the information that Kyiv puts out about the evolving battlefield situation, including casualty figures for both sides, it nonetheless represents highly effective stratcom.”
Key to the propaganda effort is an international legion of public relations firms working directly with Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to wage information warfare.
...The international effort is spearheaded by public relations firm PR Network co-founder Nicky Regazzoni and Francis Ingham, a top public relations consultant with close ties to the UK’s government. Ingraham previously worked for Britain’s Conservative Party, sits on the UK Government Communication Service Strategy and Evaluation Council, is Chief Executive of the International Communications Consultancy Organisation, and leads the membership body for UK local government communicators, LG Comms.
...With an anonymous Ukrainian figure joining two of the top public relations figures in the Kiev government’s propaganda blitz, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs distributed a dossier folder (archived) with materials instructing public relations agencies on “key messages,” approved language, content for debunked propaganda constructs, far-right and Neo-Nazi propaganda.
...Many [of the propaganda posters] use xenophobic and racist language, and some are explicit in their praise of prominent Ukrainian Neo-Nazis, including C14 leader Yevhen Karas, the Right Sector fascist paramilitary, and the Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. Multiple images call for “Banderite smoothies”-- a reference to Molotov cocktails named for the late OUN-B commander Stephan Bandera, who collaborated with Nazi Germany in the mass murder of Jews and ethnic Poles during World War II.
...While public relations firms and intelligence-linked propaganda operations target the public, Washington DC lobbyists are agitating in Congress to extend the war in Ukraine
Daniel Vajdich, a registered foreign agent and lobbyist for the Ukrainian Federation of Employers of the Oil and Gas Industry, the largest in Ukraine, is working on behalf of Volodymyr Zelensky to lobby members of Congress to approve more weapons shipments to Ukraine. Now the head of Yorktown Solutions, he previously advised Ted Cruz and Scott Walker’s campaigns and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.
“Stingers, Javelins, and let’s figure out the fighter aircraft issue,” he told Politico, claiming Russia is attempting to carry out a “genocide” and “depopulate certain areas of Ukraine.”
Vajdich also wrote Zelenskyy’s March 16 speech to U.S. Congress, in which he quoted Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech to call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Ukrainian Permanent Representative at the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya’s February 23 speech to the United Nations General Assembly was written by DC lobbying firm SKDKnickerbocker Managing Director Stephen Krupin, a former senior speechwriter to President Barack Obama who worked extensively on Biden’s 2020 campaign.
Most prominent among the registered lobbyists promoting Ukrainian government and business interests is Andrew Mac, who also contributed to writing Zeleneksyy’s speech to Congress. Mac registered as a lobbyist for Zelensky in 2019 and runs the Washington DC office of Ukrainian law firm Asters Law.
So... if you want to read Russian propaganda about Ukrainian propaganda, Mint Press News has it all ready for you. There is fascism in Ukraine. As much as in Texas? Not sure. Less than in Michigan or Florida? Dunno. Is Mississippi former gubernatorial candidate, ex-Rep. Robert Foster, who wrote and passed a bill allowing for firing squads, and last week called for firing squads to execute transgender people, less of a fascist than Stepan Bandera, an icon among many (most?) Ukrainians, even though he worked with the Nazis (against the Russians), but was complicit in the mass murder of Jews? Sometimes the fog of war gets really dense... and that's exactly what the propagandists intend it to be. The one thing the anti-Zelenskyy/Putin aplogists can't explain away though-- whether we're talking about the Marjorie Traitor Greenes and Tucker Carlsons on the right or the Dan Cohens on the left-- is that Russia invaded Ukraine and is pulverizing its cities. The rest is interesting... like footnotes.