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Wait, I thought we were winning?
How bias news reporting leads to cognitive dissonance in the Russo-Ukraine conflict.
“What I don’t understand is, where are the Ukrainian reserves, where are the 100,000 territorial defense where are the trained conscripted soldiers, which right now do not have to defend any other part of the front? Why does it always look like Russia has more men, than Ukraine?” says journalist Julian Röpcke on twitter.
If you live in the west, have been brought up by the west, and are fed a diet of exclusively western media outlets, you experience a very hypnotic, lulling presence of headlines to feed you todays war narrative. It tastes like American comfort food. As patriotic as peanuts at a baseball game — with a side of sweet unleaded petrodollars to guzzle it down. Russia has been hanging onto their military operation by a thread. Our enemy’s house of cards is doomed to inevitable collapse.
Last month, Russia was reported to be experiencing drastic ammo shortages as well as troop shortages. When Ukrainian forces gain ground, or video leaks of Russian troops absorbing a drone, these stories aggressively circulate through the three-letter networks and social media feeds, offered as irrefutable proof of a prevailing victor. Conversely, when Russia gains ground, it is a portrayed as a feat only accomplished by the frantic and desperate use of human waves and superfluous resource expenditure.
So, when the Russians capture the town of Soledar in nearly 48 hours, it comes as a shock to the pundits and journalists sporting blue-yellow flags in their twitter bio. How could an army on the edge of defeat be successfully upending entrenched positions like Soledar? The copium kicks in. Some argue that, well, the Russians didn’t really capture all of Soledar, as a technical consolation for the Ukrainian’s loss. It is then projected that the Russian command will make blunder after blunder as they advance across Ukrainian lines. Putin will have 7 different types of cancer. Their economy will be on the verge of a collapse. Their people will oppose the war en masse...any day now. As a matter of fact, Ukraine is winning the war so definitively, that the UK, Poland, Germany, are all scouring to bring tanks to the front lines to fight in their NATO war.
So how does one avoid falling victim to the cognitive dissonance perpetuated by pigeonholed sources? There is a slow and just as perpetual antidote — read all you can, especially on coverage outside of the narrative matrix. I highly suggest the commentaries of Scott Ritter, Douglas Macgregor, antiwar.com, Defense Politics Asia, or ANC-report. Don’t stop reading NYT or CNN…but, widen your scope a little bit. And if that’s too much to ask, I would at least refer you to a guide on how to not be a CIA propagandist.
The copium addiction will likely get worse. Inside the pro-war narrative media matrix, they have dug themselves too deep of a whole to change course. With a Russian change in command and a foreboding winter offensive, Ukraine will likely be forced to cede more ground, lose more forces they cannot afford to replace, and have more internal pressure on the government in Kiev to give it up. What will they say then? When there’s no way we can champion our victory in the proxy war?
It’s because of wavering NATO support, of course. Don’t negotiate a peace treaty — send more tanks!
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