The theater of war: seeing through Russian-Ukrainian propaganda

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“My first wish is to see this scourge of humanity banished from the earth.”

George Washington wrote this about the war in a letter in 1785, and sadly, more than 200 years later, we have yet to see that wish (that so many people have fervently joined him) come true.

War is a horrible, commonplace and horrible event. Its realities are so traumatic and inhuman that it is mind-boggling that men and women continue to sign up to participate.

But, as Ron Paul recently said, the American people have good anti-war instincts. Unfortunately, war propagandists are still trying to eliminate them.

These propagandists have certainly been working overtime in recent weeks as the world watched Russia invade Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian crisis unfold.

Unlike previous wars, this one takes place on social media – you can literally watch videos of people on the ground on Tik Tok and Twitter. And being able to watch the war unfold up close and in person is impacting many Americans, but not necessarily in the way one might hope.

While polls show the vast majority of Americans (and veterans and military in particular) oppose intervention, videos of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zellenskyy staying to fight for his country have galvanized popular support for the leader before. less known. Tik Tok in particular is filled with Zelenskyy’s thirst-trapping videos. You’d think the women just found their new favorite bandleader.

And that’s not the only place he’s adored. Twitter is also filled with stories of his bravery and his famous quote, “I don’t need a ride, I need ammo.”

Ironically, Russia, historically renowned for its mastery of propaganda, seems to realize that it is losing the information war. Since last week, the Kremlin has banned Facebook and Twitter and is implementing a crackdown on media outlets that tell the truth about the country’s actions.

why is it important

Let’s be clear on a few things here: This is all just spin. We may be dealing with war, but there is always a political public relations machine running in the middle of all these stories, and the dramatization of events, the images that you see, they have an impact on people. Stories have the ability to strike a chord, which in turn can influence how the public thinks about our foreign policy.

So let’s make sure we’re on the same page on a few points here: Putin is a despicable leader who has no respect for human life. But does that make Zellenskyy the “good guy?” No. Let’s not forget that this man also enlists his people to fight for him. On top of that, its record on freedom of speech and freedom of the press is also notoriously bad. One can condemn one without adulating the other.

Frankly, these videos and the social media adoration are, well, weird. Can you imagine going back to WWII and seeing videos of women lusting after Churchill or Stalin? It will be a bit of anthropology looking back decades later.

Remember, however, that the people who control the narrative often control the results.

In the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, many anti-war supporters hoped that the imagery of war on television screens would be a game-changer. Their theory was that bringing battlefield horror into Americans’ living rooms would inspire people to oppose war. And although the subject is still debated, there are reasons to believe that it is.

There are also reasons to think that the imagery of the war currently unfolding on social media may influence this conflict. But Americans should be wary of propagandists who are already seeking to use these images to drum up support for intervention instead of support for an anti-war stance.

Albert Einstein once said, “Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.” It will never happen unless people become wise enough to see through the theater and the propaganda of war.

Watching the war unfold is excruciating. But nothing is ever solved by sending Continued people in battle. As things stand, the majority of people fighting in Russia and Ukraine do not understand why they are there. They are conscripted, emotionally manipulated, driven to hate by lies. They fight for political reasons that matter little to anyone except the oligarchs who rule them.

As James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, 10“So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have sufficed to kindle their hostile passions and excite their deepest conflicts. violent.

Watching injustice unfold, especially the injustice of war, rightly provokes strong emotions. But we must be wary of the theater of war and the narrative that sending more people into combat will protect human lives. This will not be the case.

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