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Lying and Looking Ridiculous

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The Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels is generally thought to have said that “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”  In fact he didn’t state that, exactly, but based his marketing of malevolence largely on the premise that “credibility alone must determine whether propaganda output should be true or false.”  What he did say, however, was “the English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

There is a problem, however, in that although lie-tellers are ridiculous in the eyes of those who know the facts, there are very many people who don’t know the facts because they are either deliberately kept in the dark or are so closed-minded as to be easy targets.

Not much has changed on the propaganda front in seventy-five years, and the malevolent Goebbels would feel familiar with modern developments as regards the Western Establishment’s campaign against President Putin and the movement towards Russia-America rapprochement, as seemingly signalled by President-elect Trump.

On December 16, for example, USA Today reported that “President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial soft spot for Russia is based on decades of courting wealthy Russians to buy condos in his luxury high-rises and invest in his other real estate ventures.”

This line of attack is intriguing because the high-circulation USA Today is owned by the Gannett Company, which “in 2010 increased executive salaries and bonuses . . .  Bob Dickey, Gannett’s US newspapers division president, was paid $3.4 million in 2010, up from $1.9 million the previous year. The next year, the company laid off 700 U.S. employees to cut costs.”  No luxury high-rises for Gannett employees, then, unless they’re in the top echelon. And although Gannett looks ridiculous—and hypocritical—there aren’t many people who care.

In Britain the Guardian, usually an objective source of news and comment, went with the flow of anti-Russia overkill and warned that “Alarm over the rise of Donald Trump reached a new pitch early this week as officials in Washington worried that the United States has elected a leader who may be uniquely blind to threats posed by Russia.” It didn’t mention what the threats might be, but did have the honesty to end with the words of President Putin that “as I have repeatedly said, it’s not our fault that Russian-American relations are in such a poor state. But Russia wants and is ready to restore fully fledged relations with the United States.”

Of course Russia wants to have good relations with other countries.  Such a sensible approach results in commercial benefit and social harmony rather than disharmony and confrontation.  But in the period when Russia was trying to rebuild from the dire days of Soviet ideology the West expanded the US-NATO military alliance to 28 countries from 16, and recently deployed US-NATO forward tactical headquarters, thousands of troops, and flights of combat and intelligence-gathering aircraft to countries on Russia’s borders.

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, “In Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia the Alliance has established  ‘NATO Force Integration Units’ which are advanced military headquarters whose Mission is ‘to improve cooperation and coordination between NATO and national forces, and prepare and support exercises and any deployments needed’.”

Then some governments and their media became agitated when Russia deployed defensive weapons within its own territory in order to counter the US-NATO movement of armed forces up to is borders.

As reported by Britain’s ultra-right Daily Telegraph, owned by the creepy twin Barclay brothers who own London’s Ritz Hotel and many luxury high-rises (and hate the European Union, while living in the haven of tax-relaxed Monaco), NATO “described Moscow’s decision to send state-of-the-art Bastion missile-launchers to Kaliningrad, which borders Nato members Poland and Lithuania, as ‘aggressive military posturing’.”  There was no mention made of President Putin’s explanation that Russia considers it important to take countermeasures against NATO’s expansion and “aim our missile systems at those facilities which we think pose a threat to us.”

As observed by Goebbels, the English propagandists “keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.” But you can fool a lot of the people a lot of the time.

Consistent with the Goebbels line of sticking to skewed presentation, Britain’s defence minister, Michael Fallon, a public figure of mixed repute (he is known for alcoholic capers and was found guilty of drunken driving as well as having swindled the Parliamentary expenses system out of thousands of pounds over many years), was reported by Reuters as declaring that the West had “to be strong against Russian aggression towards NATO . . .  Russia is a strategic competitor to us in the West and we have to understand that.”

Fortunately, there are sounder and better informed people than the drunken fiddler Fallon, and one of these is the expert Peter Duncan of University College London whose more sober opinion is that “there is no reason for Russia to want to threaten the sovereignty of the Baltic states in the sense of trying to force them to leave NATO or still less to invade them . . . the Russian economy depends on a prosperous Western European economy.”

The Far-Right Western media ignored Professor Duncan’s balanced summation, just as it disregarded President Putin’s own assurance, given in a little-reported interview with Italy’s Il Corriere della Sera, that “I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO.”

But it’s lies that matter when false dogma is being spread.  The US-NATO military alliance doesn’t really believe that Russia is preparing to attack the Baltic States and on December 16 President Obama even informed the world media that in his opinion Russia is “a small country, they’re a weak country” which tends to contradict the propaganda line that Russia is a large country, a “strategic competitor” straining at the leash to invade the Baltic States and create mayhem around the world.

The fact that the US spends 596 billion dollars annually on armaments against Russia’s 66 billion is rarely mentioned (NATO as a whole spends 860 billion) except in reputable journals such as The Economist which on December 17, however, chose to pronounce that Mr Trump’s choice of Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State “is disconcerting” because Mr Tillerson actually displayed “opposition to the sanctions imposed on Russia.”

The Western propaganda line is that everything Russia does is reprehensible to the point of evil, and that any westerner attempting to propose dialogue rather than confrontation is “disconcerting” at best, and in the eyes of the tabloid papers a raving traitor to the values of the plutocrats who own them.

The policies and aspirations of President Putin are being presented by the US-NATO military alliance as contrary to the interests of the Western powers, but no attention has been paid to such as Bill Clinton’s deputy secretary of state, the Russia specialist, Strobe Talbott, who stated the obvious when he observed that President Putin “basically wants to make Russia great again.”  And he won’t do that by invading the Baltic States or any other country, as he and the West well know.

It’s unlikely that the anti-Russia warniks will stop lying and being hypocritical and ridiculous, but unfortunately they’ll continue to be believed by a significant number of their targets. The irony is that, as Goebbels didn’t say, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

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