Do you remember trying to comprehend the emphatic denial by Iraq’s “Baghdad Bob” (i.e. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf) in March 2003 that there were no U.S. troops nor tanks in Baghdad? Most of the cable news networks juxtaposed Bob’s claim with live film of tanks rolling through the streets. Looking foolish was the least of his problems. Made me wonder what would lead a man of education and experience to so fiercely embrace a lie. The world witnessed the same phenomenon with Adolf Hitler during his final days in his bunker beneath the rubble strewn streets of Berlin.
Then comes Ukraine and Russia’s “Special Military Operation” and the spirit of Baghdad Bob is being channeled through a host of politicians, pundits and erstwhile experts. The following is an example (I am declining to name the writer to minimize further embarrassment to him) of the Baghdad Bob delusion:
Russia right now is under extreme stress and Russian leaders are tense and unhappy. The operation in Ukraine has not only ground to a halt, but Russia continues to suffer agonizing losses of men and material. It has had to make secret deals with Iran and North Korea to have enough ammunition and supplies to stay in the war. Its home industry is too tardy and underfunded to be able to keep up with demands for urgent production of war goods. It has run out of soldiers, drafting middle age and older men and yanking prisoners from confinement to serve on the two main fronts of the Ukraine conflict. None of this has seemed to work. Every day Russia makes more military blunders and Putin has just fired one of his top commanders, General Alexander Lapin. While Russian opinion polls (which may be fake) claim Putin is still popular, he is facing a grim future if the losses turn into a complete route and the Russians have to evacuate Ukraine. In fact, Russian commanders are now preparing to evacuate the important city of Kherson, claiming that it is of no importance (which is complete nonsense).
The gentleman who wrote the preceding paragraph is well educated, well spoken and a veteran of the U.S. Department of Defense. I have known him for a short time and know that he is not a liar. What stuns me is that he genuinely believes this. Maybe we should call this “Flat Earth Syndrome?” It consists of embracing as fact assertions that are contradicted by actual evidence.
I want to deconstruct some of his claims.
The operation in Ukraine has not only ground to a halt, but Russia continues to suffer agonizing losses of men and material.
The objective reality is that Russia has stepped up its aerial campaign and has destroyed critical power and energy nodes throughout Ukraine. How does that translate into “ground to a halt?” It is true that neither the Russians nor the Ukrainians have been able to move very far or very fast on the ground during the last three weeks. But that is because the fields and dirt roads are mud pits. If you want to move overland in Ukraine you need to be on a paved road and, if you do that, you make yourself a prime target for artillery and air strikes. Despite the rain soaked ground, Russian forces have continued to advance in the Donetsk, albeit slowly.
What about the “agonizing losses of men and material?” Last I checked it is Ukraine, not Russia, that is begging for more cowbell from the United States and NATO. And Ukraine is so short of able bodied soldiers that the mobilization that started in March was extended to November 21. Not my opinion, that is the claim of a Ukrainian official in charge of “recruitment” made just last week (October 24):
The Ukrainian army needs additional troops so all men under 60, who are liable for military service, should expect draft notices, head of the Kiev City Center for Recruitment and Social Support Yury Maximov said.
“There is a need for additional [troops]. We need to increase our potential,” he said in an interview with the TSN news agency. “Clearly, we must have enough defense troops. I believe that the mobilization campaign will continue,” Maximov added. . .
Martial law was imposed in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The next day, the State Border Service announced a prohibition on Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country until martial law was over. In August, the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) once again extended martial law and a general mobilization campaign for 90 days, until November 21.https://tass.com/world/1526665
Russia, by contrast, has had one mobilization and just announced it had been completed. If you want to see how desperate the West is to control this narrative just do a google search with the terms “Ukraine” and “Mobilization.” The vast majority of the results are stories about Russian mobilization. You really have to dig deep to find the facts about Ukraine’s staggering losses.
What about this claim?
Every day Russia makes more military blunders and Putin has just fired one of his top commanders, General Alexander Lapin. While Russian opinion polls (which may be fake) claim Putin is still popular, he is facing a grim future if the losses turn into a complete route and the Russians have to evacuate Ukraine.
I have discussed in an earlier piece that the appointment of General Surovikin represented a shift in Russia’s approach to the Special Military Operation. Surovikin was named Supreme Allied Commander and given control of all Russian forces in Ukraine. Before he assumed that position the commanders in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporhyzhia operated independently.
How is Ukraine supposed to force Russia to retreat without robust, effective combat air, guaranteed supplies of artillery shells and an ample tank force, not to mention healthy soldiers to operate these weapon systems? The answer is simple–they won’t and they can’t. The Ukrainian armed forces are degraded severely today compared to what they could put on the field of battle on February 24th. I challenge anyone to make the case that Ukraine is stronger, more capable today than they were eight months ago.
The foolish analysis I highlighted above is but a symptom of a sickness that has infected the West (and I am not talking about Covid). The descent of the West into the thicket of lies is not confined to indulging fantasies about the military situation Ukraine. The corrupted culture of the West also proselytizes that there are more than two genders, that men can be pregnant, and that windmills and solar panels are sufficient to power modern societies. Hell, we were told the Covid vaccine would keep people from getting Covid. I think the underlying cause for the delusional thinking that dominates Western economics, politics, medicine and popular culture is that the West has adopted a rigid, intolerant ideology that is reminiscent of the intellectual sclerosis rooted in Marxism that led to the death of the Soviet Union. The Russian people learned some hard truths in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet empire. I believe that the people of the United States and Europe are going to experience a similar rude awakening. And it won’t be pretty.
What do you think? Why are so many smart people embracing objectively false narratives?