Propaganda and Suffering

I’ve seen a strange set of opinions popping up on Twitter over the last week or so, essentially blaming the US, the UK, and/or NATO for Putin’s illegal and horrifying war on Ukraine. Which on the face of it is bizarre, at best.

It’s possible that NATO’s expansion over the last couple of decades was unwise. Yet who could blame small countries close to Russia from seeking the protection that membership brings? Putin’s belligerence was well known even before the current attack.

George Monbiot makes the point well in his excellent Guardian piece:

There is a strong argument that Nato should have been disbanded at the end of the cold war. But while Putin’s sense of threat seems to have been heightened by Nato expansion and mission creep, Nato expansion has also been driven in part by Putin’s belligerence. Are we really to believe that Estonia and Latvia joined because they wanted to attack Russia? On the contrary, it’s because they fear attack. While Nato’s growth is likely to have contributed to the crisis, it’s ridiculous to suggest that Russia is not the aggressor.

– George Monbiot, We must confront Russian propaganda – even when it comes from those we respect

He suggests that Russian propaganda is at least partly to blame. It seems have made inroads on the left. Monbiot mentions the Stop the War Coalition, which normally we would think is an admirable goal and organisation. But their recent letter claims the British government ‘have poured oil on the fire throughout this episode.’ I’m no supporter of Johnson or the Tories, but I don’t think that’s fair. They also say that they ‘do not endorse the nature or conduct of either the Russian or Ukrainian regimes.’

I don’t know what the Ukrainians have done except prepare to defend themselves, and then do so. I’m as against war as any former CND member from the eighties, but when a country is invaded, it has a right to fight back.

Monbiot says it well:

True anti-imperialism means opposing not only the west’s imperialism, essential as this is. It’s about opposing all imperialism, whether western, Russian, Chinese or other.

– George Monbiot, As before

As always, of course, it is the ordinary people who suffer. I recommend donating if you can, to one of the organisations working to help the people of Ukraine:


The Cold War Never Ended

Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Michael Schwirtz, writing in the New York Times:

American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.

– Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Michael Schwirtz, Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says

The Cold War continues. And Trump’s on the Russian side of it:

The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.

– Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Michael Schwirtz, Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says