Twice so far in the still young 21st-century, we have witnessed a public policy debate they can be reduced to the simple choice between good and evil. 9/11 was the first and the invasion of Ukraine is the second.
In confronting the evil of Russia’s invasion, we must heed Jesus’s advice and be “as wise as a serpent,” though not “gentle as the dove.”
In thirty years of experience in facing communist/Russian propaganda in elections in Mexico, Taiwan, Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Ukraine, and even Russia itself, I’ve discerned certain patterns in how our adversary fights against human freedom. I find myself now applying these lessons to Tucker Carlson’s and Vladimir Putin’s defense of the invasion.
The Russians of today are apparently not as skilled in combat as their forebears, but their expertise in propaganda and psychological warfare is unparalleled.
When Americans battle to persuade public opinion of their cause, they instinctively rely on what they have learned from advertising. We go right to the heart of the matter and argue for our point of view.
But the Russian counter is based on the perspective of left-wing journalism which, in turn, draws on the same theory as animates criminal defense attorneys in American court rooms. As Americans hammer away at their central premises, the Russian/Communist model tries to carry the argument by nibbling at the edges. Just as a prosecutor assembles evidence to meet his burden of proof, the defense attorney seeks, not to disprove, but to discredit, distract, and divert the state’s case.
In the Ukraine War, Putin and his apparent acolyte Tucker Carlson first defended the invasion as a justified response to NATO creeping ever closer to the Russian frontier. They even tried to persuade the world that the U.S., which possess thousands of nuclear warheads based around the world and thousands move under its seas, needed to put missiles in Ukraine with which to bombard or at least threaten Moscow.
When their argument failed, they resorted to more typical Russian/Communist strategy by raising the issue of biolabs in Ukraine supposedly in preparation for a campaign of biological warfare against Russia. What a great side issue!
Now they can exploit our disgust at how Dr. Fauci lied to us all about viral experimentation and secretly funded the Frankensteinian effort to develop COVID. If the government lied to us then, they argue, they probably are lying now when they say that there are no bioweapons in the labs and that they are there to provide a quick antidote to their victims should Russia attack with biological weapons. Why are they in Ukraine? Because that’s where the invasion is and the bioweapons Russia has in abundance might be used.
But the charge lingers in the air. Was there really something up with the labs in Ukraine? Is Kiev part of a web of American deception? Memories of government lies over Vietnam come flooding back.
Suddenly, the underlying issue of the Russian invasion, Putin’s land lust, the brutality of civilian carpet bombing, and the threat Russia poses to our country are put aside while we all focus on bio-labs.
It was the same story in the war on terror. We all focused on the Abu Ghraib prison, Guantanamo, water boarding, and the Patriot Act. The outrage of 9-11 was buried under the news clippings.
On the Fox News Channel, we see the two styles of advocacy collide. At 9 PM, Sean Hannity lays out the case against the Russian invasion with his usual force and moral clarity. But at 8 PM, Tucker Carlson does his best to sow doubts, send up false flag flares, unleash red herrings to distract us from the real issue: The first overt attempt to invade a free country and take it over since North Korea invaded the South or North Vietnam attacked its neighbor.
Carlson can defend his coverage as investigative journalism. But in World War II, we all learned the difference between informing America and aiding our enemies. With Carlson’s video clips regularly broadcast on Russian television to justify the invasion, Tucker must rein it in lest he offer aid and comfort to the enemy.
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