Raw Propaganda

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss beefing up her dimwit image


by John Pilger

Marshall McLuhan’s prophecy that “the successor to politics will be propaganda” has happened. Raw propaganda is now the rule in Western democracies, especially the U.S. and Britain. On matters of war and peace, ministerial deceit is reported as news. Inconvenient facts are censored, demons are nurtured. The model is corporate spin, the currency of the age. In 1964, McLuhan famously declared, “The medium is the message.” The lie is the message now.

But is this new? It is more than a century since Edward Bernays, the father of spin, invented “public relations” as a cover for war propaganda. What is new is the virtual elimination of dissent in the mainstream.

The great editor David Bowman, author of The Captive Press, called this “a defenestration of all who refuse to follow a line and to swallow the unpalatable and are brave.” He was referring to independent journalists and whistle blowers, the honest mavericks to whom media organizations once gave space, often with pride. The space has been abolished. The war hysteria that has rolled in like a tidal wave in recent weeks and months is the most striking example. Known by its jargon, “shaping the narrative,” much if not most of it is pure propaganda.

The No-Evidence Rule

The Russians are coming. Russia is worse than bad. Putin is evil, “a Nazi like Hitler,” salivated the Labour MP Chris Bryant. Ukraine is about to be invaded by Russia – tonight, this week, next week. The sources include an ex CIA propagandist who now speaks for the U.S. State Department and offers no evidence of his claims about Russian actions because “it comes from the U.S. Government.”

The no-evidence rule also applies in London. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who spent £500,000 of public money flying to Australia in a private plane to warn the Canberra government that both Russia and China were about to pounce, offered no evidence. Antipodean heads nodded; the “narrative” is unchallenged there. One rare exception, former Prime Minister Paul Keating, called Truss’s warmongering “demented.”

Truss has blithely confused the countries of the Baltic and Black Sea. In Moscow, she told the Russian foreign minister that Britain would never accept Russian sovereignty over Rostov and Voronezh – until it was pointed out to her that these places were not part of Ukraine but in Russia. Read the Russian press about the buffoonery of this pretender to 10 Downing Street and cringe.

Dangerous Farce 

This entire farce, recently starring U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Moscow playing a clownish version of his hero, Winston Churchill, might be enjoyed as satire were it not for its wilful abuse of facts and historical understanding and the real danger of war. Vladimir Putin refers to the “genocide” in the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine. Following the coup in Ukraine in 2014 – orchestrated by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s “point person” in Kyiev, Victoria Nuland – the coup regime, infested with neo-Nazis, launched a campaign of terror against Russian-speaking Donbass, which accounts for a third of Ukraine’s population.

Overseen by CIA Director John Brennan in Kyiev, “special security units” coordinated savage attacks on the people of Donbass who opposed the coup. Video and eyewitness reports show bussed fascist thugs burning the trade union headquarters in Odessa, killing 41 people trapped inside. The police are standing by. Obama congratulated the “duly elected” coup regime for its “remarkable restraint.”

In the U.S. media the Odessa atrocity was played down as “murky” and a “tragedy” in which “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) attacked “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine). Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal damned the victims —”Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says.”

Professor Stephen Cohen, acclaimed as America’s leading authority on Russia, wrote,

“The police and official legal authorities do virtually nothing to prevent these neo-fascist acts or to prosecute them. On the contrary, Kyiv has officially encouraged them by systematically rehabilitating and even memorializing Ukrainian collaborators with Nazi German extermination pogroms, renaming streets in their honor, building monuments to them, rewriting history to glorify them, and more.”

Neo-Nazi Ukraine

Today, neo-Nazi Ukraine is seldom mentioned. That the British are training the Ukrainian National Guard, which includes neo-Nazis, is not news. (See Matt Kennard’s Declassified report in Consortium News, Feb. 15). The return  of violent, endorsed fascism to 21st-century Europe, to quote Harold Pinter, “never happened … even while it was happening.”

On Dec. 16, the United Nations tabled a resolution that called for “combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism.” The only nations to vote against it were the United States and Ukraine. Almost every Russian knows that it was across the plains of Ukraine’s “borderland” Hitler’s divisions swept from the west in 1941, bolstered by Ukraine’s Nazi cultists and collaborators. The result was more than 20 million Russian dead.

Setting aside the manoeuvres and cynicism of geopolitics, whomever the players, this historical memory is the driving force behind Russia’s respect-seeking, self-protective security proposals, which were published in Moscow in the week the U.N. voted 130-2 to outlaw Nazism. They are:

1. NATO guarantees that it will not deploy missiles in nations bordering Russia. (They are already in place from Slovenia to Romania, with Poland to follow) 2. Ukraine will not become a member of NATO. 3. The West and Russia to sign a binding East-West security pact. 4. Landmark treaty between US and Russia covering intermediate-range nuclear weapons to be restored. (The U.S. abandoned it in 2019.)

These amount to a comprehensive draft of a peace plan for all of post-war Europe and ought to be welcomed in the West. But who understands their significance in Britain? What they are told is that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a pariah and a threat to Christendom.

Russian-speaking Ukrainians, under economic blockade by Kiev for seven years, are fighting for their survival. The “massing” army we seldom hear about are the 13 Ukrainian army brigades laying siege to Donbass: an estimated 150,000 troops. If they attack, the provocation to Russia will almost certainly mean war.

The Minsk Agreement

In 2015, brokered by the Germans and French, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France met in Minsk and signed an interim peace deal. Ukraine agreed to offer autonomy to Donbass, now the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The Minsk agreement has never been given a chance. In Britain, the line, amplified by Boris Johnson, is that Ukraine is being “dictated to” by world leaders. For its part, Britain is arming Ukraine and training its army. Since the first Cold War, NATO has effectively marched right up to Russia’s most sensitive border having demonstrated its bloody aggression in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and broken solemn promises to pull back. Having dragged European “allies” into American wars that do not concern them, the great unspoken is that NATO itself is the real threat to European security.

In Britain, a state and media xenophobia is triggered at the very mention of “Russia.” Mark the knee-jerk hostility with which the BBC reports Russia. Why? Is it because the restoration of imperial mythology demands, above all, a permanent enemy? Certainly, we deserve better.

John Pilger’s 2003 film, Breaking the Silence, about the “war on terror” is available to view here.  


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13 Responses to Raw Propaganda

  1. Alastair Bryan says:

    Putin bankrolled Brexit , Russian oligarchs own half of Londongrad. Russian money is laundered and hidden in British banks and overseas tax free havens, free from EU scrutiny and the taxman’s. The real reason for Brexit. Is it not funny how the Tory friends of Russia are all Brexiteers .The phoney war is bemusing an international crime syndicate milking their citizens for their own enrichment. When will little England wake up from the dystopian world they have created, breed out of racism, self entitlement and false sense of exceptionalism. The Media wrap themselves in the Union Jack and project the narrative of plucky little England standing up to the Great Russian bear. For me the worst part was yet to come with the SNP supporting UK foreign policy and SNP, MPs backing a Nazi facist government in the Ukraine. I dont vote for the SNP to get involved in phoney wars or British propaganda to keep the Torys coruption of the front page. I vote SNP, to deliver independence, to end child poverty, foodbanks, and create wealth in Scotland. It’s time for a changing of the guard. The SNP have become the colonial masters administration not a Government of Scotland. It’s time to give my vote to Alba.

  2. Molly's Mum says:

    Hmmm John Pilger v Liz Truss….

    Or even John Pilger v the combined brain power of Alyn Smith & Stewart Mcdonald, the Yogi and Boo Boo of the SNP

    I know where I’d put my roubles

  3. duncanio says:

    All this going on at the same time as those couple of British state stooges Alyn Smith and Stewart McDonald grin like monkeys alongside a British Union flag whilst demonstrating their ‘support’ for the Ukraine.

    It’s enough to make you vomit.

    So vote till you boak, folks, at the Council elections and remember to assign the high numbers to the SNP candidates.

  4. This ”raw propaganda” can only be aimed at the dimwits in both the USA and the UK who could not point out Ukraine on a map.

  5. Is there a gulag in the UK like in the US?

  6. Grouse Beater says:

    We’ve kept whistle blower Julian Assange in prison a long time without trial. Some of our regiments have not acted in a military manner when interrogating Iraqi prisoners, just a couple of examples. We herded into camps thousands of innocent Italians during WW2 on Churchill’s instruction, and then deport many who drowned when their ship was sunk. Sadly, there are Brits who think none of those things count.

  7. Michael W says:

    I could never understand why we sent Scots Italians to the Isle of Man and then some on to Canada across the U-Boat infested Atlantic when Italian and German POWs were roaming around the countryside helping on farms, visiting towns and villages and forming lasting friendships etc.

    The photograph of Truss shows again that Britain wants to be a world power on the cheap. Is it just me or is the camouflage flaking off the helmet and tank or APC.

    We see a great example of BBC Raw propaganda today with the BBCs take on the Scottish curling teams winning medals for Team GB. It seems their supporters are watching the teams win on TV swathed in Union flags. I can’t recall the last time i sat at home watching Scotland play rugby or football wearing a Saltire. maybe its just me.

  8. Grouse Beater says:

    With so much exposed corruption of the ‘Lympics these last years, nations buying access, drug taking, misogynist coaches, and the like, the games are tarnished, and that’s before you count the silly new ‘sports’ added and the vast cost to set them up and finding uses for the empty facilities afterwards.

  9. Alastair Bryan says:

    They can only play the phoney war for so long then they have to find something else to keep Boris of the front page. Remember at school how you were told about the Great British empire how benevolent it was how they educated the world. It all seems a bit of a joke now ,but we have been duped for years our culture ,history, music stolen. Propaganda form cradle to the grave UK,OK.There is a sickness at the heart of the British state that has always lurched in the background. Would you wish to entrust your children and grandchildren lifes and their future to this country . Brexitland itsint for me. Sturgeons failure to capitalise on this and get us out of this rotten Union is a disgrace.
    I dont think she has serious tried. For me the SNP have become compromised and it’s now time to give for another independence part a go.Vote Alba.

  10. Michael W says:

    The house prices in London have just plummeted with the new hard hitting round of English sanctions against Russia targeting pro Putin oligarchs amassing swathes of London… only kidding just a fresh round of banning exports of herrings, whisky and whatever primary products rUK exports to Russia I think. I suspect England exports nothing but vitriol and the arrogance of post imperial hubris

  11. Significant also perhaps is the repatriation by the Brits of Cossack POWs at the end of WWII directly into Stalin’s death camps. Some of those Ukrainian patriots who had taken up with Hitler’s Nazis to sweep away the Russian advance into Central Europe had absolutely no ideological commitment to being Nazis. They just wanted to see the end of Stalinist occupation. Undoubtedly many did share the Nazi ideology and have remained a potent threat in Ukraine. But no distinction was made in 1945. They were all given to Stalin under the terms of the post war settlement.

    During my life I knew an ex British Army Major (a history teacher) who was given the unholy task of preparing Cossacks for this fate, loading them from the POW camps into secure transport to the Soviet Union. He knew what the fate of these men would be and despite sometimes opening gates when nobody was watching to allow a few prisoners to disappear into the chaos of post war Britain, he was deeply traumatised for the rest of his life by what he had been ordered to do. Forcing crying desperate men, pleading for their lives into what might as well have been cattle trucks, he told his impressionable pupils that he would never forget the expressions on their faces as doors were closed and transport continued in slick military fashion.

    I also knew the son of one of those released, possibly by my old history teacher. He knew from an early age what might have happened to his dad and how miraculous it was he had been born at all. His father had been one of those who put on a Nazi uniform to get rid of Russians not to demonstrate a belief in Nazi ideology. He is sadly no longer with us, but him showing me his dad’s Nazi belt, explaining how he found a new life in the Black Country and adding further nuance to what I knew from my old history teacher has prepared me well for not believing a word of this raw propaganda.

    If only we were all taught about nuance and circumspection … …

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