“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.
“Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”
“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.
Hans Christian Anderson: The Emperor’s New Clothes 1837
One of the things that seemingly doesn’t make sense is the unwillingness to simply admit that the shooting down of the Malaysian Airliner was an accident of war?
You have Ukraine suggesting this was an act of terror (it wasn’t) you have people insisting Russia must pay, you have the Russian Backed rebels moving bodies and seizing black boxes and you have diplomatic outrage everywhere.
One would think that the easiest thing to do would be to simply put out a humble statement saying something like:
“We apologize for the accidental shooting down of the Malaysian airliner mistaking it for n enemy aircraft. We regret the innocent loss of life and offer our sincere and heartfelt apologies to the families who were killed in this tragic mistake.
We will take all possible measures to prevent this in the future and would welcome to cooperation of those who monitor and plot international air travel to aid in both keeping aircraft out of the war zone and informing us if a passenger jet comes into said space.”
To the average person this would seem to be an ideal solution, while such contrition would not be enough to satisfy the families it would allow Russia’s foes in the west to consider honor satisfied leaving the families to go through the international courts for any monetary claims (and that could take decades). Instant de-escalation pressure off the Russians and the rebels, problem seemingly solved.
Except Russia can’t allow that to be done.
Not because of the price they would pay internationally but because of the price at home.
One of the hallmarks of the old Soviet Union has been the control of the press, Under Putin Russia has returned to the days where the Russian public is fed daily a full diet of propaganda.
on Ukraine there’s one message – that the violence in eastern Ukraine is all Kiev’s fault, that Ukraine is crawling with Russia-hating neo-Nazis and fascists, and that it’s the US government which is fuelling the crisis behind the scenes, while Russia tries to act as peacemaker.
“Aggressive and deceptive propaganda… worse than anything I witnessed in the Soviet Union,” is the verdict of Lev Gudkov, the director of the Levada Centre, Russia’s most well respected polling organisation.
That piece is from June and we’ve talked about Putin playing the useful idiot game in the west as far back as last year.
Putin cut his eye teeth in the KGB you can bet your bottom dollar that he knows what he’s doing. That vast majority of the world is on a different page than the west on Gay Marriage, and cultural issues but Putin’s words are strictly utilitarian as Stacy McCain put it earlier this week when writing about Russia’s slow regression back to Totalitarianism:
Anti-American propaganda may actually be based on factual reporting. There are things our government does, especially in the area of foreign policy and national security, which we don’t necessarily endorse. However, these actions must be understood in an international context. What are our nation’s enemies and rivals doing? Our nation’s policies cannot be viewed in a vacuum, and especially we cannot permit propaganda by hostile powers to suggest that the United States is uniquely evil, so as to undermine our prestige, demoralize our citizens and weaken our defenses against aggressors.
Stacy was born in 59, I in 63 so we’re old enough to recognize the cold war game Putin is playing.
Liz Wahl, an anchor on the Kremlin-backed Russia Today, quit during a broadcast on Wednesday, the day after one of her fellow anchors, Abby Martin, caught flak from the network for criticizing Russia’s actions in Crimea. Wahl, the grandchild of refugees from Hungary who fled to America to escape Soviet persecution, said she could not be “part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin.”
And that’s the problem, Putin has built a narrative of Russia the good, Russia the strong, Russia the pure. To admit or even acknowledge even accidental fault risks undermining the entire narrative.
Putin’s power is based not only on one lie but an entire empire of lfes. It’s a house of cards like all house of cards the slightest breeze can blow it down and it will take more than the deaths of those 300 on Malaysian air for him to risk even a single Russian child point and him and saying:
“But he hasn’t got anything on!”“
and like the emperor in the story Putin’s only thought is :
“This procession has got to go on.”
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