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Who’s Winning in Ukraine? George Orwell (and Baghdad Bob)

by | Sep 29, 2022

Who’s Winning in Ukraine? George Orwell (and Baghdad Bob)

by | Sep 29, 2022

header essay 1984 19561

Score another point for author George Orwell as his masterwork 1984 continues to serve as an instruction manual for our society.

In the world of the future, war was a constant feature, though the sides changed frequently. Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia are the three fictional super nation states in George Orwell‘s 1949 dystopian novel. Using the government’s near-perfect control of the media and ability to rewrite history on the fly, whenever an old ally became the new enemy, everything was switched around to make it appear “Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” Lies were the news. We are close to something similar with Ukraine, where it has become impossible to know who is advancing and who is retreating. The American media has become so entangled with the unreality of the war that Ukraine should have defeated Russia many times over and again by now.

Start with that nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia. We are told the Russians hold the plant. We are also told by the Ukrainian side that a mass nuclear incident is ready to happen if the shelling of the plant does not cease. UN inspectors are on the ground to tsk tsk over what might happen if more bombs hit the plant and the cooling systems fail. Left wholly unsaid is if the Russians hold the plant and the Ukrainians want it back, exactly which side is doing the dangerous shelling? Are the Russians shelling themselves? Yet even while Ukraine attacks the plant the western media buy into the narrative that it is the Russia who are endangering all of Europe. It makes no sense but then again neither does the phrase “Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia” when you clearly still remember (but dare not say out loud) that last month you were sure the war was not with Eastasia but with Eurasia. And no matter the Russians have held the plant since March. Six months later it is time for this story to surface.

Articles wringing their hands over the danger openly mock our common sense, beginning by saying “The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv was quick to call the shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant a ‘war crime.’” “We survived a night that could have stopped the story, the history of Ukraine, the history of Europe,” said Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. “An explosion at Zaporizhzhia would have equaled ‘six Chernobyls,’” he said, upping the odds by a factor of six with just words. But… but…

We are told the Ukrainians, when not not shelling the nuke plant, are engaged in a titanic offensive to recapture areas to the east previously taken by the Russians. None of it matters in the details, the tiny towns being fought over either strategic points when Ukraine captures them or unimportant hamlets when still held by Russia. Sources for this information are equally mocking, made-for-the-internet organizations like Kyiv Independent (Bodies Exhumed from Mass Grave Show Signs of Violence), The New Voice of Ukraine (World must be ready for Russia’s disintegration), Institute for the Study of War (Russia’s ‘strategic defeat’ could threaten his regime) or Ukrayinska Pravda (Ukrainian forces destroy Russian Mi-8 helicopter and kill over 120 Russian soldiers.) These sources have all the credibility of a late night infomercial — order within the next ten minutes and we’ll double the number of Russians claimed killed! There are also some curious patterns if you watch closely — when Zelensky stopped showcasing photos of kids with guns and old women making Molotovs the Russians stopped targeting “civilians” an apartment complexes.

As for the hamlets, the video reminds one of the earliest days of the conflict when six months ago bodies in the streets were labeled freedom fighters willing to stand up to Russian tanks while bodies buried were the results of atrocities. It all lacks context. Here’s eight seconds of a tank blowing up. Where was it shot? When? Was the explosion caused by a mine, a missile, or something internal to the tank? Is the tank Russian or Ukrainian? In most cases the media outlet has no real idea of the answers to those questions, never mind who shot the video towards what end. Even if they stumble on to the basic who-what-where, the exploding tank video is devoid of context. Was that the lead tank hit, stopping the Russian advance toward a village? Or was it a Russian tank that lingered in an open field and got picked off in a lucky shot, strategically without much consequence. One assumes clever hands can change a mini-Ukrainian flag to a spray-painted Z as necessary, because most of the hardware used by both sides is the same. Some of the video might as well be doctored Ohio State-Michigan footage. It would accomplish the same goal.

Ask Baghdad Bob how it works. As one commenter put it, he’d likely mimic Western press reports about Ukraine’s “lightning offensive.” Nearly all of MSM use the word “humiliating” to describe Russia’s losses. Russian defenses “collapsed” and they “fled in panic.” This was widely attributed to the supposed “exhaustion” and “low morale” of Russian troops. As a result, the battle lines have been “redrawn,” the war’s contours “reshaped.” Putin is said to be “livid and “isolated.” The “Ukrainian victory shattered Russia’s reputation as a military superpower.”

At one point Ukraine boasted it destroyed 509 Russian tanks using shoulder fired missiles. Maybe; one of the techniques of modern propaganda is to throw out some outrageous number, challenge people to disprove it, and then shout “you can’t disprove it so I’m right.” So no proof. But history suggests 509 man-on-tank kills is ridiculous. During Gulf War 1.0, one of the largest tank battles of modern times at 73 Easting saw Coalition forces destroy only 160 Iraqi tanks, and that was using the M-1 tank with its sophisticated aiming tech and night vision. Even at the famed Battle of the Bulge only 700 tanks from both sides were destroyed.

American media has mostly pulled its correspondents out of the fighting; all the network stars got themselves some images of shells whizzing by for their sizzle show reels and every refugee seemingly was interviewed at least twice. The refugees proved marvelously articulate, speaking in talking points and wrapping up with slogans to never see defeat or something equally polished. Apparently audiences in America lapped it all up; tickets to this show run in the billions while you can go see Top Gun again for under 20 bucks.

The rest of the victory over Eastasia has long been forgotten. But remember Snake Island’s defense? Remember all the times Russia was going to just run out of bombs or missiles? (Russia Turns to Old Tanks as It Burns Through Weapons in Ukraine; Russian Troops Stay on Border with No Food and Communications) Remember the stalled Russian convoy, the columns which supposedly had plumb run out of gas, the mighty drones which killed a hundred times their weight in Russians (Wolverines!) and all the other bloodthirsty tidbits served up. But coincidence as Ukrainian victories seem to coincide with U.S. announcements that another couple of billion dollars in aid are inbound.

So who is winning? Who knows?

Here are some Twitter resources for alternative views from the MSM on the conflict in Ukraine. All are interesting and worth reading with an open mind; none are guaranteed correct, not all claim to be neutral, and not all are endorsed. Try @mtracey, @imetatronink, @FOOL_NELSON, @ErnestLemingway, @WaywardRabbler, @witte_sergei, @RWApodcast, @TheWillPorter, @aaronjmate, @caitoz, @Antiwarcom. Also https://www.youtube.com/c/AlexanderMercourisReal, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiBR6Z16tXxC5mQO3nsSBEg, and https://bigserge.substack.com.

As an example of alternate thought, try this: “People, to put it bluntly, don’t know anything about war. They don’t know that armies use up lots of vehicles in a high intensity conflict, and so a picture of a burning tank seems very important to them. They had never heard of MLRS before this year, so the HIMARS seems like a futuristic wonder weapon. They don’t know that ammo dumps are a very common target, so videos of big explosions seem like a turning point. Ukraine enthusiasts eagerly propagate Ukrainian claims, no matter how absurd, but the information coming from the Russian side mostly takes the form of dry briefings from the MOD. Ukraine is playing a Marvel movie, Russia is putting on a webinar.”

This article was originally featured at Peter Van Buren’s blog We Meant Well and is republished with permission.

About Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren is the author of "We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People", "Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan", and "Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the 99 Percent."

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