RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT: INTERNATIONAL MEDIA PROPAGANDA, DEATH IN JOURNALISM
It is almost 500 days since Russia launched “Special military operations” against Ukraine to rid it of what it described as “neo-Nazi fascists”, and hopefully stops them from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), a 1949 western military alliance seeking to expand into the borders of the Russian Federation. The conflict comes against the humiliating defeat of the supposed powerful US army by herdsmen in sandals in Afghanistan after 20 years of occupation and trillion dollars spent buying everyone that could be found in caves.
Russia sees NATO expansion as an attempt to break its sphere of influence, a threat similar to US Monroe Doctrine of 1823 that bars other powers from staging military posts within its neighbourhood that sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1960 with Soviet Union. Since February 2022, NATO leaders have in public and private, pressurised countries without exception to follow their sanctions against Russia.
But as the adage goes, the first casualty in war is truth, and without delving into the merits of this conflict, who’s winning or losing, the western media propaganda has been hyper and without any pretence of journalistic factual credibility, objectivity or fairness, and sometimes common sense. Taking advantage of their over dominance of world discourse, major western media outlets have driven a heavily skewed news, current affairs, and analysis from ‘experts’ that spell decline in true journalism. They seem to believe that when their lies are repeated many times then those lies become the truth, so much the fantasy in war propaganda full of shit that even a toilet could be jealous.
When defeated as in Mariupol or the much contested city of Bukhmut, western media promote a narrative that these targets aren’t that strategic, and one wonders why all the efforts in defending them. Now Bakhmut has fallen, perhaps as a gift while the snobs from G7 met in Hiroshima, Japan pulverized with atomic bombs, 1945 by the US. The BBC has severally reported UK defence ministry saying that Russian army is fighting with shovels to demean Russian weaponry. Recent claims that Russia has sought arms supply from Iran or South Africa is intended to demoralize, and, soon they may claim that an empty air balloon is carrying nuclear weapons.
Sometime back, a video on Twitter by the Ukraine Defense Ministry showed an S-400 missile system floating on a children’s swimming pool balloon and targeting Crimea’s Kerch Bridge. The video garnered millions of views on YouTube, and Twitter. It seemed so natural until you apply some common sense to know that a missile weighing hundreds of tons cannot float on a balloon.
This conflict is shedding light on how the media, especially social media is being used as a weapon in warfare beyond territorial fights for the control of information, propaganda, journalism, media and politics. Africa appears to be the main victim of the skewed narrative since western media is its main source of information on account of colonial history. Russia is finding itself between hard places unable to effectively fight back the global disinformation particularly among English and French speaking populations.
While Russia has made modest gains, and at worst coming to a stalemate, it’s still not well appreciated that NATO that’s pouring tons of intelligence, weapons, military training, sanctions, diplomatic support, media and political propaganda is the main actor in the war. Ukraine is portrayed as poorly armed yet invincible and valiantly fighting a brutal nuclear superpower. With Smartphone on many hands, supported by internet connection, information consumption about global events from diversified, but highly coordinated western media, it’s difficult to suspect the manipulations.
But the information warfare could become a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it may help in disseminating the propaganda to boost the morale of allied soldiers and citizens, but could in the long-run make them lose complete hope if enemy successes in the battlefield become evident and unavoidable. It sounds smug that Western journalists embedded with Ukrainian army, apparently know full details of Russian war dead, but don’t have from Ukrainian side.
The repeated use of misleading imagery, false narratives, misrepresentations, fabricated news sources, suppression of truth and dubious claims of war crimes have become techniques for psychological war operation designed to portray President Putin as a maniac. The Russian army and ‘mercenaries’ among them ‘prison convicts’, are reported to commit war crimes with reckless abandon, while possible Ukrainian aren’t mentioned.
Some major western media outlets even employ racist double standards compared to their coverage of conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. Ukrainians are described as Christian, middle class, blonde, civilized, European and blue eyed. The tragedies in Afghanistan and Syria wrecked by western governments have disappeared from media mention.
President Putin is a ‘brutal war criminal’, not so for GW Bush, Barrack Obama, Donald Trump or Joe Biden and European surrogates. No reference is made whatsoever to Bush and Tony Blair who erected a tower of lies about WMD, and murdered millions of innocent people so they could steal Iraq and Syrian oil.