Both Russia and the West lie profusely. They lie, however, about different things.
The West has been lying about the state of their economies; they lie about their ability to meet entitlement expense obligations; they lie about levels of immigration, legal and illegal; they lie about the levels of crime and social expenditures associated with that immigration. Lastly, politicians lie more and more brazenly about their personal conduct, corruption and sexual peccadillos.
The West shouts down anybody bold enough to utter yesterday’s common sense. Our ancestors were mostly honorable and well-intentioned, at least no worse than the rest of humanity. Homosexuality and feminism are antithetical to sustaining a population. People, and races, differ in temperament and average ability. The Christian religion is only one belief system among others. It must be taken on faith, and those who take things on faith sometimes go overboard. Just like Greenpeace activists or Scientologists. Christians are not unique in this way, and certainly not uniquely evil. There is a stripe of irrationality in just about everybody’s belief system.
Lying has a long and illustrious history in Russia as well. I recently read the Marquis de Custine’s “Letters from Russia,” published in 1839 and Pat Buchanan’s recollections of Nixon’s dealing with Khrushchev and Brezhnev. The Russians are the world’s master propagandists, from Potemkin showing entire fake villages to visitors in the times of Catherine the Great to Stalin totally snowing the Western press, most infamously Walter Duranty, on just about everything, especially the forced starvation in Ukraine.
Russia is attempting to annex part of Ukraine. They have taken Crimea and they are working on Novorossia, “New Russia,” the oblasts of Lugansk and Donbas. Russian propagandists would not admit to this claim. They would rather state that “Freedom fighters” or “separatists” are attempting to “liberate” predominantly Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine where the natives are supposedly oppressed by “Fascists” and “Banderistas.” Or something like that. The story is constantly shifting.
Russian speakers make up a majority of the Ukrainian population. I chose to study Russian when I came here seven years ago. People told me, and nobody has argued otherwise, that Russian is the dominant language in every large city except L’viv. Russian is the language of everyday business here in Kiev, although almost everybody speaks both. I, the foreigner, find myself able to read Ukrainian on the strength of my imperfect Russian. All of my acquaintances, every one, loathe Putin. They have no desire to be part of Russia. They have long and bitter memories. The Communists starved millions of Ukrainians to death, used them in preference to real Russians as cannon fodder in WWII, constantly derided the Ukrainian language as “not a real language” Ukraine as “not a real country,” and Ukrainians as bumpkins. These threads are very evident in Russian propaganda as they attempt to slice off part of Ukraine today.
Russian propaganda is massive and unrelenting. It is also transparently false. Yet, many conservatives in the West are willing to believe it and even to publish it. Why?
Ukraine has no friends. It has essentially nothing to offer the West. No energy and no unique natural resources. Ukraine has been difficult to deal with for all of its two decades of independence. The politicians have been deeply corrupt, and at loggerheads with one another. The West has long suffered “Ukraine fatigue.” They are reluctant to accept that Maidan was a genuine revolution and there is now a government they can trust. Also, dealing with their own impending bankruptcies, they do not find it convenient to discover a country worthy of financial and political support.
The Western democracies are so bankrupt, financially, morally, socially, and Western conservatives – Europe’s nationalist parties and America’s libertarians – so anxious for the charade to end that they welcome Putin as a savior, no questions asked. Putin claims to support traditional values. He is encouraging Christianity, discouraging feminism, and banning gay propaganda. His rhetoric supports white people (though curiously, on his watch, Moscow has become about 25% Muslim). He appears willing to take down the hollowed-out, over-valued, overborrowed dollar and Euro. These are all on the conservative agenda.
All Putin has to do to satisfy Western conservatives is to create enough of a fog of lies and disinformation that people like Paul Craig Roberts, Ron Paul, the bloggers at zerohedge and elsewhere have some cover when Russia’s stories become impossible to defend. Russia is doing an adequate job of that. The ironic, the tragic outcome is that the groups in the West that are most concerned about their own loss of freedom are the very ones who are willing to write off Ukraine’s freedom.