Victory in war has many fathers but defeat is an orphan, is a truism of war. I wonder which of Putin’s Generals will see out the year, or Putin for that matter. Another truism is that the first casualty of war is the truth. That saying has been attributed to a variety of people ranging from Aeschylus around 550 BC – “God is not averse to deceit in a just cause” – through the more verbose Dr Samuel Johnson in 1758 – “Among the calamities of War may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth …” – to many others who got close to the modern cliché.
In the case of Russia’s attack on Ukraine the distortions of truth, the unashamed peddling of falsehoods and the ridiculous inversion of facts started long before the boundaries were actually crossed. In fact, they started before when Russia actively assisted Ukrainian separatists annex two regions in the east of Ukraine. Not all the whoppers in the cartoon are his, but, since he is the puppet master, they can all be attributed to him. It’s like classical paintings where experts find it difficult to distinguish between, say, a Rembrandt and one from the school of Rembrandt.
Whilst not the spittle-flecked rants of Hitler, anyone who has seen his rambling TV diatribes connecting dots from all over the place must wonder about his state of mind – no wonder Zuma and him are mates. Perhaps they are not cynically constructed lies but merely the product of years of KGB-trained delusions and old-school Soviet paranoia writ large.
The Putin created or orchestrated sea of lies seems to be largely successful within Russia with the population being force-fed this diet in the state-controlled media and regulated internet access. Behind the scenes, the sea of lies, which was part of the DNA of the old Soviet Union to ensure survival of the nomenklatura, created the delusion for Putin that the army could walk through Ukraine in days and wrap it up before the West got all precious about it. That didn’t work out so well and now the lies concern the extent of the military losses as the wily Ukranians have picked off Russia’s inept army – death by a thousand cuts. They are now desperately scrambling around to secure their few territorial gains and securing the odd cow shed before possibly claiming victory on the holiest of days, 9 May – the day Germany surrendered in WWII. Actually, they had surrendered to Eisenhower the day before but Russia did not recognise that so it had to be re-enacted.
More worrying is that parttime stage-extras like South Africa are genuflecting to Russia by ignoring the facts and perpetuating the deceptions. Even more worrying is that the dictatorial China, the world’s dominant country in a decade or so, is just one small step short of actively siding with Putin and is parroting the notion that America caused it all. According to the hoary old communist playbook, it’s all about America trying to establish hegemony over the world. In the years of the Cold War, it was by means of the arms race, star wars and propping up tinpot dictatorships. Today, it’s Apple, Twitter, KUWTK and McDonalds (they have a lot to answer for).
Maybe the answer is simpler – he needs the big whoppers to make up for his small size.