It is awful that we live in a world where we now have to question everything we read. All of this may well be true or it may be as true as the soldiers who told the Russians to f off who were then all shot, or as true as the biolabs that didn’t exist but then did, or as true as the photos that turned out to be stock footage from previous conflicts.
To be clear:
1. I am NOT saying these stories are not true, but in a war that is quite clearly being fought on two fronts (on the ground and in the media) one really has to question absolutely everything and not take anything at face value.
2. The propaganda in the west over this conflict is like nothing we have seen in the past. Like the war on COVID this level of propaganda is at a level bordering on a psy-op.
3. Real people are dying and rather than sabre rattling for full-scale NATO intervension, we should be fighting tooth and nail for a diplomatic solution.
4. It is clear from the news from other sources that atrocities are being committed by both sides, but due to blanket censorship, people over here are strictly only allowed to see one side and hear nothing of the other side. This is a very worrying trend.
5. Just to ram the point home so that people don’t think I am in any way a Putin fan I will restate point 1.
I am NOT saying these stories are not true. I’d be VERY surprised if they were completely made up. All I am saying is that we know that we have already been lied to so as thinking adults we need to maintain the ability to question what we read and hear and ask whether what we are hearing is definitely true, whether there’s another side we are not hearing, and what the motivations are for exposing us to this content.
We always need to question; but when all is said and done, unless we ourselves have first hand knowledge, we have to rely on reports. The problem have arisen that quite a number of people, including some on this site, have taken to disbelieving everything and anything that is said by the MSN, US, NATO, EU, UK, and the West generally merely for ideological reasons, rather than examining it honestly.
Just a quick reminder: UnHerd is not the MSM, indeed the MSM continues lying like their lives depend on it (which they may very well do, looking at their finances).
Didn’t say it was. But MSM do get it right at times, I do not tar all of it with the same brush. Even where I am politically at odds with their editorial policies I don’t dismiss what they say without thought, otherwise I just dwell in a bubble too, a different bubble, but a bubble none-the-less.
I don’t think MSM ever really gets it “right”. I believe their pieces contain bits of truth within a shaky context. But I may be wrong since I have been trying to avoid their hogwash for quite a while now, only picking up promising headlines, to then be partly disappointed.
What makes you think that the alternative gets it right? Or is it just that you’re in agreement with what the alternative is saying?
The first red flag is the mere existence of a strong government-approved narrative eg around vaccination during Covid, now the whipping up of war-fever
Explicit message control (censorship) – eg1 Ofcom in the UK and US social media literally banning off-message content
Direction of incentives – eg state/NGO advertising spend, or fomenting of outrage to produce clicks/revenue, or confirmation of established policy narratives
Consider what crowd psychology dynamics are in play and may be being picked up in the article
Track record of the voice quoted, of the author and of the website editor
Internal coherence/contradiction of the story
Veracity of underlying assumptions implicit in the article
Partisan loyalties (in self and in the author). How often is something OK if we are the ones doing it, but not otherwise?
What makes me think that the alternative gets it right is that the alternative is smaller, not government-funded and actually has to put in the effort before publishing a piece. And I am not talking about some of the very kooky Telegram-groups.
Stating that the alternative isn’t more likely to get it right than the MSM would be akin to saying UnHerd is of the same quality as the MSM. I’m not saying that’s what you said, just making an example.
Obviously I look at both sides to make my argument; and I consistently find that while the alternative platforms sometimes shoot over the top, they actually have fact-based arguments and talking points often months before the MSM does, and they have more of them with better background reasoning.
So no, I don’t believe anything so long as it goes against the mainstream. But to get back to the original argument: with all the crap the MSM spouts, disbelieving anything they state has in the recent past usually been a better way to find the truth than not. It’s sad but true.
Agreed, but if one explores the news reporting from many other countries one hears a variety of reports that are markedly different to the ‘Western’ MSM, which seem to be in complete lockstep.
I don’t remember a time in history when all the MSM in the west reported EXACTLY the same news every day. They did it during COVID and they’re doing it again. It is like they are just reprinting press releases. Very odd.
the common narrative provided by MSM media may be nothing sinister. Merely that their industry has been eradicated by Google/Facebook et al. No can afford researchers/journos nowadays.
Tell us of these reports from other countries which are markedly different.
It has nothing to do with ideology. When the MSM and our politicians habitually lie how can you believe anything they say?
All you can do is examine their motives. If they have a motive for lying and then they are probably doing so because, guess what, they have shamelessly done it before to advance their own agendas
Thank you for saying this.
You’re correct. While it’s always wise to take what you read in the papers with a pinch of salt, too many think that that means they should uncritically believe all opposing voices.
Good points. This is a well-told story, and I am prone to believing it, simply because it sounds so realistic. Of course it is also more fleshed-out than anything the lamestream media would manage to produce even if they united all their powers.
But yes, you are correct. There is a war going on and no matter what stories we are told, they mostly have one goal: to evoke emotions that dull the intellect.
Using raw intellect, this conflict could have ended a while ago, or better yet, it may never have escalated to this degree.
Well said Michael. Your point about emotion versus intellect is so very important.
…and presumably you will still be saying “six of one, half a dozen of the other”…until the Russians secure an attack route to Moldova via the Southern Ukraine, and do the same there…and then again, if Finland applies to join NATO and Czar Putin of all the Russias deem that to be “a provocation”..? When will the existence of the West and the preference of many of Russia’s erstwhile colonies to be part of it cease to be “a provocation” to him…the Balts? Poland? The North German Plain?
You presume wrong. Very wrong.
I try to look at the big picture and to see what motivates the parties involved. Through such understanding we can then proceed to negotiations and diplomacy.
Otherwise we end up with situations like Rwanda or the Balkans where all the parties involved keep insisting only the other party is to blame and as a result the conflict doesn’t stop.
The first step towards a nonconfrontational negotiation needs to be an attempt to understand and accept the other side’s views.
Thankfully there are excellent training courses on these techniques, but it seems Biden, Johnson and most other leaders haven’t attended these courses, and prefer to keep prodding who they think is the playground bully, and rattling their sabres.
…why do you believe Putin has any interest…at all…in stopping until he is actually stopped? As far as I can see (and I read the essay on which his “declaration of war” was based, albeit in translation)…the only interest he would have in a “nonconfrontational negotiation” would be to secure his gains, retrench and plan his next attack…probably initially on Moldova. He is on a Holy Mission to restore “All the Russias”…anything less is simply a short break to plan and prepare his next move.
We would see a peace, even if partly on his terms, as a kind of victory because we both hate and fear war…he does not, and therefore seeks victory by fear if possible, and by further war if not…
So how would you have negotiated with Hitler on the big picture?
Agreed to let him achieve his primary goals on killing all the European Jews and enslaving all the Slavs on the basis that the big picture is we in the U.K. could have sailed serenely on with our empire with no losses? Where would that leave us morally?
There has been so much propaganda put out by Ukraine that I believe NOTHING coming out of there. By the way, I have experience with propaganda and know it when I see it. FYI, I doubt the claims about the lack of supplies. This town is only a few miles from Belarus.
By the way, we all have experience with propaganda – that’s why we read Unherd. But I’m sure you have greater insight than the rest of us.
Since you appear to have much more reliable information than the rest of us Unherd readers (guess you have a direct telephone line to God), you probably also have unshakable evidence that it was Ukraine that attacked Russia and not the other way round.
“It is awful that we live in a world where we now have to question everything we read.”
So what’s new about that, especially in a war? During WW2, of course Britain fought a propaganda war, and applied censorship to avoid informing the enemy. This occasionally meant lies were told, but the British public got a much better approximation to the truth than did the German, because correspondents would conform through a patriotism which wasn’t enforced by terror.
My father and mother were fairly confident that on the whole, their newspaper was truthful, even with retrospective knowledge.
Of course the Ukrainians are propagandising, but when they are, it’s obvious, at least to me. As for these latest outrages, I believe them, and my hope is that the Ukrainians are sufficiently out of the Russian military’s way of doing things, and are disciplined and wise enough, to behave the way they should, otherwise support for them will be diminished.
A country has been invaded by a more powerful neighbour. Everything is subservient to that. Food and cigarettes for 2 weeks? It wouldn’t surprise me if that was cynically deliberate.
A very powerful article. “it was Lord of the Flies, but with heavy artillery”, conveys masterfully the capricious brutality inflicted on the civilian population.
‘Impunity’ was the stand-out word for me. The raw exercise of power just because you can. Decency becomes the exception rather than the rule.
Is it the the raw exercise of mindless power or the mindless exercise of raw power? Either way, it’s a completely incompetent and morally bankrupt way to run a military campaign.
Unfortunately this is what happens when the thin veneer of civilization is pulled aside but for a moment. Being a decent person is not the default state; it actually takes constant effort. Sadly many in the West do not realize this simple fact.
Yes, entirely agree.
Thank you. I truly hope all of this is not true. But it is, isn’t it.
It is hard not to become very angry indeed at the obfuscation of those that deny or minimise a lot of this.
I’ll wager Johann and the usual suspects avoid commenting on this article
Why would they not? Because it proves them incorrect? Indeed it proves nothing, at this point, it is a story of people who are thrown into a survival situation, where some of them have guns and others don’t. There are no moral implications that follow, no intellectual arguments whatsoever, with the exception of the fact that war is and always was the most inefficient (and I might add: dreadful) way to solve a dispute.
Russia is still in denial about the mass r*pe in Germany after WW2, so don’t expect any admissions soon.
How absolutely dreadful. My heart goes out to all of these poor people.
A harrowing tale.
Is this any different to My Lai, Nisour Square, Haditha, Makaradeeb and so on?
As long as Mr Putin has the ‘Doomsday Machine’, nothing can be done. As always “ You don’t argue with a man who has thirty Legions at his back”.
No real difference. Possibly Makaradeeb was an accident, but there’s been no apology. There were prosecutions over the Nisour killings, but President Trump granted full presidential pardons to 4 of the convicted. In the case of the Haditha deaths there was just the one conviction. The My Lai massacre, like that at Haditha only resulted in one conviction, and he, similar to those convicted for the Nisour killings, had his sentence commuted by a Republican president, Richard Nixon in this case. So, some attempts were made at bringing the perpetrators to justice even if rather cursury, which is very unlikely to happen in th Bucha case. Not that I’m defending the soldiers or Blackwater in any of these case, accidents can sometimes happen, but in most of the cases you mention they were clearly not accidental.
Yet here Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan* is determined to press ahead with the prosecution of soldier ‘F ‘, come what may, for an event that happened 50 years ago despite the CPS wishing to drop the case.
(* First ever female and Catholic LordChief Justice of Northern Ireland: A Double First so to speak.)
I have mixed feelings about this. If the law were being applied in all cases regardless of perpetrator or victim, including IRA and UVF crimes, I would say -yes, accusations of unlawful killing should always be investigated, time limits should not apply -, but as it just seems a one-sided application of the law it leaves a very bad taste, and smacks of the use of the law for ideological purposes.
One has to feel a twinge of sorrow for the unfortunate Lady Chief Justice, Dame Siobhan Keegan.
For the Unionist she will always be a Catholic, closet Fenian, whilst for the real Fenians she will always be a traitor for taking the “Queen’s shilling”.
The IRA crimes are still being prosecuted. One recently came to trial. The media in the UK is more focused on the prosecutions of soldiers, which may be why it isn’t so widely known.
Thanks for this; that’s good to know.
Give us a source for your statement that IRA are being prosecuted.
By the by, when my father served in Malay in 1951, every patrol or ambush laid was given a recorded amount of ammunition, which had to be counted back in. On the patrol’s return. a report was filed, and if rounds were fired (they usually weren’t), who fired and at what.
It was considerably ‘worse’ in Northern Ireland, complete with the ridiculous “Yellow Card”.
However had the Army carried on shooting enthusiastically during Bloody Sunday, pushing on from the Bogside say, to the Creggan that would probably have won that sordid little war there and then.
Fortunately that didn’t happen and the Army was able prolong the conflict for a full thirty years, thus preventing serious ‘defence cuts’, whilst providing superb training for junior commanders, in what was essentially a ‘live firing’ training area.
So cynical! Where is your evidence for such an off-the-wall comment?
I was there, were you may I ask?
Being there (I assume you meant NI) is not evidence for the statement in your last paragraph. If however you were at trhe table when it was decided to prolong the conflict in order prevent defence cuts then I apologise (did you take minutes?)
No I didn’t take notes, I listened.
There isn’t the space here to discuss this in any detail.
Suffice to say the plan to go for ‘Blitzkrieg’ and annihilate the IRA was called the ‘Tuzo Plan’, named after the splendid
GOC, General Sir Harry Crawford Tuzo, GCB, OBE, MC, DL.
In the event it wasn’t implemented, probably due to the feebleness of the Prime Minister and various ‘other’ senior officers who were all to well aware of the fact that the Army needed a decent role if it was to avoid further cuts.
It is difficult, even now to know who was correct.
A microcosm of these different approaches was to found at the time in the different attitude of 39 Brigade in Belfast with that of 8 Brigade in Londonderry ((The Aunt Sally’s).
My apologies,I almost forgot to ask, in what capacity did you serve in NI?
I think it is different. All were crimes, but Bucha seems to be the result of a criminal policy, or a policy of utter indifference to criminality.
“Utter indifference “ is an excellent choice of words, thank you.
A touch of history:
1) Ever since warfare was .”invented”, well-armed young men, away from home, angry, scared, bored, have vented their power and wrath on civilians because they can and because civilians haven’t the means to fight back.
2) No-one denies the dead bodies in Bucha and elsewhere. Russia would love to make them just disappear and pretend nothing ever happened. Unfortunately even for them, that would stretch credibility too far.
3) The simplest explanation is that they were done by the occupying soldiers. History, sadly, repeats (and always will).
4) The occupying soldiers know that there will be no comeback because then Russia would have to admit that the peaceful “Special Military Operation” was a lie. No soldier will be held to account as that would explode the myth. Contrast that with the recent cases against the British military in Northern Ireland for acts from 40/50 years ago (I am not judging whether these cases are right or wrong but just trying to make the point that the soldiers there knew there were limits and they could be accountable. They also rapidly learned that the more you terrorised the population, the fiercer the resistance; something the Russians seem to not yet have realised).
It seems impossible to know the truth about just about any events these days. After learning that reports about human rights abuses in Syria were coming out of Coventry, UK, I became skeptical of these kinds of reports. Especially after the false flag of Douma. What is needed is evidence. Where are the satellite images of the site when the Russians left? Why has twitter taken down the account from the Russian Military? Maybe they are lying, but let’s have some evidence. It seems illogical for Russia to lose so many soldiers by not going for a ‘shock and awe’ campaign only to then waste all that human cost in a pointless massacre of civilians. It is possible, but it seems illogical. Such action also seems to contradict the reports of the independent journalists actually in Ukraine, who are speaking of what they have witnessed and not of what they have been told. Who benefits? seems to be another question worth asking, Undoubtedly it is the Ukrainian forces – more weapons, more sanctions, more expulsions of diplomats, more Russophobia. Maybe that’s not right, but having just seen film of the Pope kissing a Ukrainian flag supposedly sent from Bucha, it feels to me as if the propaganda machine might have just over-egged it. Also, perhaps we shouldn’t ignore the fact that 14,000 Ukrainians had already been killed by Ukrainian forces before the Russian invasion.
“….reports about human rights abuses in Syria were coming out of Coventry, UK”? What are you talking about? They have plainly been coming out of Syria, as have millions of refugees. If you can’t tell the difference between the sides from the copious information available, then there’s something wrong with you. You remind me of the Iraqi guy who said there were no US forces in Baghdad when they could be seen behind him.
I have seen satellite images, showing what appears to be bodies lying in the streets.
Satellite images can be very deceptive, and like all intelligence material easily manipulated if necessary. We British were/are a master class in such subterfuge.
So nothing will convince you because ypu’ve made up your mind.
No, but I don’t jump to conclusions without decent verification. More haste, less speed as ‘we’ used to say.