TWO weeks ago I wrote an opinion piece for this publication titled The Roots of the Ukraine war: How the conflict developed. I articulated with references to the history behind the conflict and argued that the war is not between Ukraine and Russia, but a prolonged clash between the United States/Nato and Russia, with the US/Nato using Ukraine as a proxy. This conflict dates back to the Cold War era.
In last week’s edition, there was a response to my article by David Coltart, which attempted to discredit my integrity as a lawyer and a political analyst.
The Coltart piece was, however, a deficit conatus (failed attempt), as it failed to present facts contrary to disprove my article.
However, I will continue with my series and respond later in articles to follow on the dying imperialist empire.
Back to the series, the conflict in Ukraine, comprises three elements of warfare which, combined, will determine the outcome of a hegemonic (geopolitical) conflict.
These three elements; information/disinformation, military/combat and economic warfare will determine the winner of the hegemonic war, which has been the objective of major wars in the world.
This article will discuss the information/disinformation warfare playing in Ukraine and how the West’s narrative has changed of late, as the tide is turning against Ukraine and Nato.
Information/disinformation warfare is the manipulation of information trusted by an audience without its awareness so that the target will make decisions against its own interest but in favour of the one (usually governments and the elites) conducting the information warfare.
The US/Nato have, since post World War II, used information warfare to demonise and accuse countries opposed to their interests, thus creating a negative narrative about them, in preparation to invade them or to enforce coups, in some cases assassinating the leaders. Before invading Iraq, US/Nato created a narrative that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and would imminently attack the West. This was repeated through their mainstream media and government communiques until the world believed it.
The late Colin Powell, who was US Secretary of State under George W Bush, even went to the UN Security Council, brandishing a vial, containing what he called proof of Saddam’s WMDs. The result was an invasion that killed Saddam and destroyed a sovereign nation.
In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, who had resolved to ditch the US dollar in his country’s oil trade, and the US/Nato created a false narrative that he was committing genocide against his citizens and the West killed him.
The US used disinformation warfare to convince the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone, which led to the invasion of Libya.
Larry C Johnson, veteran (retired) Contractor of the CIA and the State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism, who provided training to the US Military’s Special Operations Community for 24 years, explained in a podcast on Kunstler Cast 358, on May 18, 2022, how they would create false narratives against countries and politicians they perceived to be hostile to US interests, including Iraq.
They would distribute the narrative to the media, coach generals and senior officers, on how to address the media with the lies, in preparation for a military offensive against the target country, or in continuation of an existing invasion.
He stated that he worked in covert operations and was part of the state machinery that created propaganda against perceived hostile nations.
Retired Colonel Richard Black, former head of the US Army’s Criminal Law Division, reiterated: “The illusion of Russian and Chinese aggression around the world is repeated many times by the West. We have created this illusion that China and Russia are going to take over the world from us.
“Our paradigm is, we go into a country, we set up NGOs, we take over the government by coup. If we can’t, we bomb the place to smithereens half the time.
“Contrastingly, China goes into a country and works with the government that is there. Russia only goes into a country by invitation.”
Russia has been a perceived threat to US global dominance alongside China and have both received negative propaganda from the West.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the asset stripping of Soviet state assets, which brought Russia’s economy to its knees orchestrated by the US and its European partners (vassal states), during the Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin transitional phase, the West’s intention was to destroy Russia’s economic and military significance.
When Putin, a former KGB intelligence officer, became President, he reined in the corrupt oligarchs, restoring Russia’s economy and military might, to the chagrin of the West, which began demonising Putin calling him a dictator. Putin has destroyed the West’s plans to destroy Russia as a powerhouse.
When Russia started its Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine in February, an information/disinformation war blitzkrieg was activated by the US, UK/ Nato, European Union and a host of Western countries. Russian news outlets such as Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, were banned to plug alternative sources of information across the EU, the US and other Western countries.
Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter blocked Russian news channels on their platforms. This was contrary to the so-called Western liberal values and laws promoting free speech. Russia simply reciprocated by banning Western media outlets.
In the early stages of the SMO, the West proclaimed Ukraine’s victory in its disinformation warfare. Fake victories and heroisms like the Ghost of Kyiv and the Ukrainian marines of Snake Island, who were said to have refused to surrender to the Russian military and were said to have been heroically killed, had in fact surrendered to the Russians and were eventually shown to the world.
The captured marines disputed the Ukraine/West narrative of heroism, where Ukranian President Zelensky had accorded them posthumous medals. The captured marines were allowed by their Russian/DPR captors to video call their families, who confirmed they were alive.
Impassioned speeches by Volodymyr Zelensky addressing various Western parliaments, university graduations like Harvard, meeting foreign heads of state, EU and Nato officials in Kiev, horrific images of alleged Russian-wrought destruction, topped Ukraine’s disinformation warfare in the West.
Alleged war crimes against humanity in Bucha, photos of millions of Ukrainians fleeing their homes, and tales of Miss Ukraine laying down her tiara and picking up a machine gun beside millions of her countrymen were reproduced by the Western media and captivated the Western audience.
No doubt this narrative was partially responsible for the outpouring of Western munitions and military assistance to Ukraine, sanctions against Russia, volunteering to fight on the side of Ukraine by Western citizens, and aid to displaced Ukrainians. If the objective of Ukraine’s disinformation war was to gain sympathy and assistance from the West, it succeeded.
What was conspicuously missing in the Western blitzkrieg, was the racist treatment of African and Asian students studying in Ukraine, who were denied passage on buses and trains leaving for Poland and Romania.
The West has been indifferent to the plight of victims of wars in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, which US/Nato is responsible for.
While the West blocked and dismissed Russian narratives, other influential actors listened and embraced them. Russia’s narrative has carried sway in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East.
China, Pakistan, India and the Middle East declined to toe the Western narrative and did not condemn Russia. The world other than the West will not forget how the West has indiscriminately destroyed and plundered countries opposed to their foreign policy, and they believe Russia has come to their rescue.
The West’s disinformation gained traction with the Western public, which comprises a small percentage of the world population. Even in the West, many no longer believe their governments and media narratives. Some Western military experts, journalists and diplomats have weighed in on the side of Russia.
Former military intelligence officer and UN weapons inspector William Scott Ritter has come out making military analyses, and stating that the Ukraine war is a US proxy war against Russia.
He has even predicted that Russia will accomplish its objectives in Ukraine and the US/Nato will be the villains. Former top US Department of Defence Advisor Colonel Doug MacGregor has stated in interviews that the US/Nato will not admit they were wrong on Ukraine and have run a tremendous disinformation campaign.
Canadian journalist Eva K Bartlett, who covered the war in Syria, British journalist Graham Phillips, former US marine turned journalist Patrick Lancaster, and a host of other Western journalists, who have been covering the Ukraine assault on the eastern Donbass regions since 2014, have debunked the Ukraine/West disinformation narrative.
Their Twitter and Facebook accounts were blocked, but they have continued to report on how the Donbass population has suffered under the Nazi Azov battalion in places like Mariupol, the Kherson region and Odessa. While their own governments have branded them as Russian agents, their reporting has gained an audience both in the West and across the world.
Jeffrey David Sachs, an American economist, academic, public policy analyst, and former director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, articulated how the US/ Nato are to blame for the Ukraine war and that Russia will prevail.
He has given interviews and lectures on this topic across the US and the world. Sachs worked in Russia as advisor to Gorbachev and Yeltsin during the end of the Cold War.
The capturing of about 2 496 POWs of the Azov Battalion, including American/ Nato generals and officers, proved Nato was deeply involved in planning, training and directing the war against Russia. Several rescue attempts by air and sea were mounted to extract the Nato officers, but Russia destroyed the helicopters and boats.
US General Milley recently said: “As it stands, Russia is winning the war and a negotiated outcome is a logical choice.”
Hugh Santos, who oversaw Nato’s arms control policy, also said the US must persuade Ukraine to negotiate, otherwise there will be no Ukraine to talk about soon.
Ukrainian Defence deputy minister acknowledged that Ukraine is losing most of the weapons from the West to Russian bombing or capture.
Zelensky has stated that Ukraine is losing at least 200 military personnel (KIA) and as many as 600 injured or missing in action (MIA) daily.
Western media such as the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN have finally acknowledged that Russia is winning the war in Ukraine and are urging Zelensky to negotiate a peace deal, and even ceding territory to Russia.
Russia’s objectives in Ukraine will be achieved. If the US/Nato continue their aggressive path, they will likely move closer to a direct confrontation with Russia.
The next articles will articulate the events regarding the military warfare and the possible outcomes followed by the discussion on the economic warfare and an assessment the emerging geopolitical shift in world politics.
- Chando is a lawyer, political analyst and commentator on International Law and Politics.