“Sometimes peace is just another word for surrender.”
That gem is courtesy of J. Michael Straczynski, famed author, filmmaker, and creator of the cult hit series Babylon 5. If you don’t recognize that one, perhaps this one rings a bell:
“Yeah, you say peace. I kinda think you mean the other thing.”
I know, these lines sound so trite and cliche when not spoken with the natural gravitas of Samuel L. Jackson. But that’s the thing about cliches. They became cliches by being applicable — again and again. And sure, some might fault me for quoting from popular culture. But sometimes, there are some gems of wisdom that happen to fit the occasion. Don’t be a snob!
Having said all that, let’s get to the point. Not long ago, I wrote a piece here that addressed the Russo-Ukrainian war and the easily-disprovable lies that are permeating cyberspace. Given the success of past cyber-campaigns, it is no surprise is that Russia continues to rely on social media and trolling to bolster their activities and deflect criticism.
As always, a popular tactic they employ is to blame the entire situation on the U.S., NATO, “the West,” and anyone and everyone outside of Putin and Russia. This is right out of Putin’s own playbook and generally goes by the term “whataboutism.” In short, whenever you are cornered or being criticized for your actions (aka. crimes against humanity), just respond with “what about the U.S.?”
The war in Ukraine is no exception, and the Russian propaganda mill is working overtime on that one. But unlike previous campaigns, they are losing this one. Much like how they are losing the war on the ground, their struggle to win the hearts and minds of people abroad are failing miserably. But they continue to try. And in addition to the usual, “it’s all the West’s fault,” there are many parroting a new talking point.
“If you support Ukraine, you’re against peace!”
Coming from the unsuspecting and naive, this talking point is asinine. Those who genuinely think they are promoting peace by claiming that everyone BUT Putin and his cronies are prolonging the war are being made total fools of. Coming from a Russian troll farm or a bona fide pro-Russian source, such claims are laughably transparent and hypocritical.
Here are some pointers on how to spot instances of this hypocrisy. They generally come down to the following four elements:
- The war is somehow the fault of the U.S., NATO, “the West,” etc.
- Ukraine is not winning the war.
- Peace is not possible because of the U.S., NATO, “the West,” etc.
- If you don’t support concessions, you want war!
For good measure, they will probably say that anyone who says otherwise has been “brainwashed by western media.” This is part of the pathology of people who like to repeat talking points that favor Putin (and were likely crafted by Russian trolls themselves). They think everyone else subscribes to a bipolar worldview where everything is “us and them” because that is the soup they swim in.
They either can’t or won’t conceive of a world where facts are ascertainable and not merely the repetition of one media bias or the other. But that’s because they are trying to sell you on their counter-narrative, which is in direct competition with the one they are trying to deny.
When pressed, they will fall back on the “everyone’s biased, we’re just telling the other side.” That right there seems like a valid argument to people who can’t defend their position anymore. In reality, it’s an admission that what they are saying is no better than the “false narrative” they are criticizing. At worst, it’s pure sophistry that renders all arguments meaningless. But that’s all irrelevant considering this counter-narrative is a clear lie (in a long line of them).
If you know anything about psychological warfare, or are just capable of independent thinking, you will see this argument as the thinly-veiled bit of propaganda it is. And it’s in good company To list just a few previous bits of propaganda that the Russian troll mills have tried to sell the world on:
- This is a “limited operation” to “de-Nazify” Ukraine
- The attack on Kiev was a “feint,” not a failed assault
- Russia is winning the war
- Supporting Ukraine will lead to World War III!
Or, if you want to look all the way back to 2014, there’s also these golden nuggets:
- The revolution was led by Nazis and white-supremacists
- The revolution was a U.S. and NATO-backed coup
- Crimea wanted to be annexed!
- Zelensky is a western puppet and/or Nazi!
For any thinking person, the true purpose of these talking points are clear. Excusing the aggressor, vilifying the victims, justifying annexation, and blaming it all on foreign agitators or manipulators. For Soviet-era dictators, this has been the go-to or over a century. Whenever they were met with an uprising, launched a purge, starved millions to death (the Holomodor), or invaded a neighboring country, it was always somehow the fault of the victims and/or “Western imperialism.”
For Vladimir Putin, a Soviet-era autocrat who dreams of restoring the USSR, it’s a knee-jerk response. This latest talking point is no different and subjecting it to the slightest scrutiny reveals its intent. Those demanding “peace” in this case are arguing that Ukraine needs to give in to Putin, that NATO and the U.S. needs to stop supporting them in their efforts to liberate their country, and end the war on terms that are favorable to Russia. Any idiot can see who these talking points benefit!
Vladimir Putin has been itching to punish Ukraine ever since it overthrew his puppet Viktor Yanukovych. He failed to take the country in “three days,” he has been losing ever since, and now his only hope is to strike a peace deal that allows him to keep territories he still holds. These aren’t calls for peace, people. They are demands for surrender. And it’s no coincidence that those demanding a one-sided peace are also refusing to acknowledge Putin’s central role in starting this war and are in denial about his war crimes.
Claiming that the responsibility to end this war lies with Ukraine and the west is no different than blaming them for the war. In this respect, those claiming to be in favor of “peace” are committing a brutal hypocrisy. To cite another oft-repeated quote, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” MLK Jr. said this on the eve of the anti-segregation protests in Montgomery, Alabama.
Here’s another appropriate quote, “No justice, no peace.” Any peace deal that awards the aggressor with concessions is neither just nor peace. So please, cut the pretense people! You talk about peace, but what you mean is surrender.