As the conflict in Ukraine drags on into its fourth month, it has never been more important for us to champion the cause of cease-fire, peace, and diplomacy. Unfortunately, voices aiming to do so are ever more marginalised in Western media and political discourse, adding another shameful chapter to the history of so-called “civilised” Europe.
Instead the drums of war are beaten with increasing vigour in the West, with armchair generals from San Francisco to Stockholm happy to let Ukrainians fight and die in the service of their convictions and beliefs.
In order to sell this doctrine of all-out war to the Western public, politicians and their lackeys in the media have been required to enact a series of deceptions, which they have been somewhat successful in doing. We will examine three of the biggest lies in the service of war to emerge from this conflict.
Lie no. 1: The conflict began in February 2022
The standard explanation given in the Western media for the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 tends to be a vague, xenophobic hodgepodge of clichés involving one if not more of—
• The conflict is the quixotic aim of President Vladimir Putin, who is suffering from some form of psychological and physical impairment that compels him to act aggressively towards his neighbours
• The invasion was intended primarily to capture Kyiv and depose the Ukrainian government.
• The invasion of Ukraine is merely a precursor to Russia continuing to march westward until it controls all of Europe.
Needless to say, like most emotive speculation, none of the above can be adequately substantiated with reference to established facts. Nor indeed does any of it correspond to the stated aims of the Russian government, who see their goal as “demilitarisation, denazification and liberation of the people of eastern Ukraine.”
We need not take Putin at his word, though we can certainly substantiate the claim that the people of eastern Ukraine have been subjugated since the “Euromaidan” coup in 2014: since then nearly 14,000 civilians—predominantly ethnic Russians and Roma people—have been killed in the Donbass by Ukrainian forces, of whom the neo-Nazi Azov Regiment (now under siege in the port city of Mariupol) are regarded as the most notorious for their brutality and cruelty.
In truth, the violence inflicted on the population of the Donbass in the previous eight years, which increased sharply before the Russian invasion on 24 February, is one of the principal decisive factors in pushing the conflict from civil war to the tragic situation we can now observe, as the self-declared People’s Republics in Donetsk and Lugansk requested military support from the Russian Federation to defend themselves against Ukrainian offensives.
Lie no. 2: Sending weapons into Ukraine is an anti-war measure
An interesting inversion of basic common sense and decency during the past few months has been the triumph—in Western political life at least—of the idea that sending heavy weaponry into a war zone, as NATO-aligned countries have been doing to Ukraine since the end of February, is an anti-war measure, and not simply an act that prolongs conflict and increases the number of direct and indirect casualties of war.
It should be remembered that the primary victims of any war are civilians. In addition to the war dead, it is projected that this conflict will produce at least 10 million displaced people from Ukraine. In this context alone it is a crime against humanity that the possibility of diplomatic resolution has been so roundly ignored, and indeed rubbished, by establishment political voices and their lackeys in the media.
What is instead happening is that, at the behest of American arms manufacturers, the United States and various European countries are sending old military equipment, including tanks, missile-launchers, and fighter jets, into Ukraine, just to be replaced with new weaponry—produced and sold at a premium by the United States, of course.
“The true war is a celebration of markets,” observed the great author Thomas Pynchon; and nowhere is this sad fact more accurately perceived than in the Ukrainian conflict. In place of principled anti-war campaigning we have instead a fire sale for weapons manufacturers, fuelled by the innocent deaths in a conflict that continues to be entirely avoidable, from all viewpoints but that of the war profiteers.
Lie no. 3: Ukraine is capable of winning the war
Perhaps the most insidious deception of all is the central assumption of almost all Western war propaganda, which is that Ukraine can win, and is winning, the war. Any sober observation of the conflict shows that Ukraine has lost and continues to lose territory to Russian forces at an alarming rate. The advances of Russian forces in the east of Ukraine are at best slowed, but not halted, by Ukrainian resistance.
No amount of weaponry sent into the conflict will upset the basic facts that Russia has immense superiority in artillery and air combat, meaning that any conventional war is already tactically lost for Ukraine. The likely outcome of this equation is the resort to insurgency, an outcome that would be particularly bloody and tragic for the civilian population of Ukraine.
It is impossible for any thinking, feeling person to take pleasure in any of this. War is hell on earth, which should be avoided at all costs. We have a duty to fight war with peace—just as we have a duty to fight lies with truth. It should be noted that the dissemination of the deceptions described above is made all the more possible by the outright ban placed on “pro-Russian” (i.e. dissenting) media in the early stages of the conflict.
It has never been more vital for us to promote the cause of peace, truth and humanity than at this moment, as socialists and as human beings. The entire, rapacious machinery of imperialism is our opponent in this war of ideas: therefore we must be steadfast in our principles, and our commitment to the truth.