Op-Ed: Have Our Politicians Been Spinning the Facts on Ukraine?
Are the Biden administration and many in the establishment media spinning misinformation about Ukraine? The implications of not questioning the current approved narrative are dangerous for a free society and could lead to a broader war.
My attention was drawn to the topic by an article authored by Jacques Baud, a retired colonel in the Swiss intelligence service. He wrote that the truth about the Ukraine war has been distorted by both government officials and many in the media. He might be correct, but the tone of his article is quite pro-Russia and his allegations must be verified.
However, his bottom line is worth exploring further — that is, have our politicians spun the facts on the ground in Ukraine, and has the media echoed that message without doing its job of searching for truth?
Most Americans are tired of being misled by politicians and their media allies, which is why both are held in such low esteem.
A classic example of a politician misleading the country about war took place in 1964: the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which involved North Vietnamese warships purportedly attacking U.S. warships. President Lyndon Johnson used that trumped-up charge to secure the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution from Congress, which eventually led to the deployment of more than 500,000 service members to Vietnam and resulted in over 56,000 American casualties.
Many in the establishment media aren’t much better. The New York Times evidently took its Gulf of Tonkin spin from the Johnson administration when it reported on Aug. 5, 1964, that “President Johnson has ordered retaliatory action against gunboats and ‘certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam’ after renewed attacks against American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.”
Trust in government is at rock bottom, falling from a high of 77 percent in 1964 to 26 percent in 2021. Truth-free reporting appears to continue today and doesn’t help the American people understand dangerous situations. That’s likely why a recent Gallup poll found that Americans’ trust in the media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly is at just 36 percent.
We should be suspicious of the reports pouring in about the Ukraine war. Are those messages trustworthy?
Two weeks ago, the U.S. secretaries of state and defense were in Kyiv promising more support to the war-weary Ukrainians. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin sent a bold message to Moscow: “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” Austin then convened a meeting of defense leaders at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany to collect pledges of heavier weapons packages for Ukraine.
To add fuel to the fire, President Joe Biden has asked Congress for $33 billion to fund Ukraine, and over the weekend Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Kyiv to announce that the U.S. will support Ukraine’s resistance “until victory is won.”
No one asked what Pelosi meant by “victory” nor how Austin defines a “weakened” Russia. What if Ukraine falters and Russia isn’t “weakened”? Does that mean we commit U.S. troops to the conflict?
We shouldn’t be surprised that the Putin regime views the arming of Ukraine as a proxy war. “If NATO essentially engages in war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy, war means war,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week.
Evidently, according to Moscow, the war in Ukraine is getting quite serious. That’s why a fresh dose of truth would be refreshing.
Consider the pathway to our present stand-off with Russia.
Starting last fall, the media and the Biden administration justified our rapidly escalating Ukraine response based on a particular scenario: “[Russian President Vladimir Putin] wants to … reestablish the former Soviet Union,” Biden said.
Meanwhile, the reasons our media gave for Russia’s invasion included keeping Ukraine out of NATO, demilitarizing and “de-Nazifying” Ukraine, and preventing the alleged genocide of ethnic Russians in the Donbas region. Of course, our government officials rejected as false each of these allegations.
The plot thickened in February when Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told the United Nations Security Council that the U.S. had evidence that Russia was “moving toward an imminent” invasion of Ukraine. He based that prediction on the administration’s so-called Tiger Team, a small group of experts, perhaps the same people who advised Biden on the Afghanistan debacle, who studied the issue and offered the president courses of action on the growing crisis in Ukraine.
Blinken’s Russian invasion threat was much like the political scenario spun in 2002 by the Bush administration when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke at the UN Security Council about the weapons of mass destruction threat posed by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Powell was joined by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who used the media to help justify the eventual war in Iraq.
At the time, Rumsfeld ignored most everyone but a small group of insiders who agreed with him. They made the removal of Saddam their aim and thus we went to war, at the cost of thousands of lives and $1 trillion. Americans remain in Iraq today, almost two decades later.
Now back to Austin’s “weakened” Russia announcement. Has the Biden administration’s objective in Ukraine become the removal of Russia’s ability to threaten its neighbors? That’s quite a shift in strategy from only a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, we are now two months into the Ukraine war, and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warns that it could last years. If we are to believe Austin and Blinken, our commitment to Ukraine is certain. We intend to keep pouring more weapons and humanitarian aid into that country hoping for a Ukrainian victory and a “weakened” Russia.
What we need at this juncture is the truth about this war, not political spin and media analysis that lacks the independence necessary to provide an objective perspective. Further, no one has yet explained our national interest in this war, although we have already invested billions of dollars in it.
Millions of Americans don’t trust their government or their media. It’s past time to question what is becoming a clear path to a future war in Europe, because Americans deserve the truth.
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