American Ukraine Propaganda

A 16 February 2024 headline from the The Babylon Bee spoofs, “Congress Warns If We Don’t Keep Sending Billions To Ukraine, The War Might End.”  Funny, except not. Like so many Babylon Bee headlines, the truth is worse than the parody. An account from “X,” reminded by Citizen Free Press on 24 February, is of a New York traveler’s personal visit to friends in the Ukraine. @MariaMateiciuc tells us that the propaganda coming out the Zelensky government and canaried by ours, is all lies, that the Ukraine is ruined, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men are dead and Ukrainians want out of the war. Maybe she’s the propagandist, I don’t know, but we really should talk about our government’s war information strategy. We are not at war, and if mis- and dis- information is indeed a thing, a bad thing, our government appears to be a main culprit. I’ve been following The Military Summary Channel for a long time now. I don’t think the site is propaganda. I think that mapper, albeit tilting pro -Russian, is doing a sincere, comprehensive job recording the war from open sources – many of them. Following the war on the Military Summary Channel, I get the impression that most of the journalists and pundits (including too many retired US generals) who publish or opine about the Ukraine war — in those articles that show up front-page on my internet browser — are whoring themselves. We need to resist the notion that our diplomatic and military establishment somehow has the right as a matter of sovereign imperative to bombard us with BS in the name of smart strategy. Doing the right thing we are not.

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2 Responses to American Ukraine Propaganda

  1. Justin Lawlor says:

    Oh, and there is also just good old fashioned groupthink and wish fulfillment in Ukraine as well.

    I think most of us would want the Ukrainians and collective west to defeat Russia in this war, and certainly wish for a cessation of hostilities. For my part, its part of a basket of wishes, to include a working southern border, a reduction in distracted driving, larger intact nuclear families and a thousand other things.

    But I think many of the commentators on this fail to understand a single point. We could give Ukraine another 100 or 1000 billion dollars, and if there nothing or a decreasing comparative to the adversary force to multiple (always understanding the subtracting factors to the sum of effort like corruption and incompetence) its not going to have a meaningful effect on the battlefield.

    But I think the collective Western counter-Russian think tank establishment (historically in my experience with the problem set, the American defense hawkish Left and the Euro defense hawkish right) is committed to victory, hoping to wish it to fruition, and all lacking lots of concrete data and understanding what it would needed, if it was ever really possible.

    I would imagine that bilateral or EU ground combat aid is being mooted in policy circles, first of course as the in country “advisors” or “trainers” and advancing from there. I’m at a bit of a loss to see what capacity or capability that could be pushed via a non-NATO or US angle (as I think that is, for now, clearly seen as a mammoth escalation it would be.)

    Perhaps something like a naval blockade by the EU, but honestly, I think there is nothing to be gained (the grain export deal is kind of working, and any non Black Sea kinetic activity would risk it, and the Ukrainians need ports more than the Russians.

  2. Justin Lawlor says:

    Not to disagree with your initial point, Carlos, but perhaps to illustrate more of the “How” to the statement “notion that our diplomatic and military establishment somehow has the right as a matter of sovereign imperative to bombard us with BS in the name of smart strategy.”

    Its a problem, and one that often is wrapped in all sorts of layers of stuff like OPSEC, which like seat belts and motherhood and apple pie, are hard to argue against.

    However, especially since the GWOT, we’ve (as the action arms of the US think tank establishment…I’m trying to dodge the Actor Specificity Police!) gotten really interested in what was called the cognitive domain or the information space. We’ve gotten interested in things like strategic communications, information operations and psychological warfare. As part of the many reasons for our GWOT failures, some of us have admitted/discovered/accepted that people who’ve lived among or near our information operations targets for millennia are shockingly better at crafting messages that stick or are effective, than us college educated people of the West, generally. Perhaps we can influence the most Westernized/western leaning elements of a target population, but those people are likely with us, anyway.

    Just because we can sell Coke or Marlboro Reds doesn’t translate into other spheres.

    Additionally, lots of the practitioners of Information Operations tend to be military adjacent people, and very few with either deep cultural knowledge or even encumbered by self reflection. So, like Sun Tzu’s man who knows neither the enemy nor himself, he is in certain peril in every engagement.

    So, the fact that many IO architects are not culturally sensitive, let alone expert, nor are they practically wise, our messages doubly fail to be good at explaining to domestic populations and sound as shrill and tone deaf to foreigners as North Korean Television sounds, to us.

    We’ve bought a theory on the cognitive domain, that it dictates the results to the other domains. In places of maneuver like denial and deception, or OPSEC, it has a role. In trying to create decisive decision space, it fails. Why, because the decision space it has in its mind exists primarily between Flat Rock, Virginia and Yonkers, NY, and not really anywhere else.

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