Friday 18 February 2022

Hit or Miss

The quintessential underpinning of propaganda is a truth by arrangement of associations. During a tour of the Joint Security Area of the Korean DMZ in 1986, the respective allocations of land just to the north and south of the line were referred to by the American military guide as the "village of propaganda" and the "village of freedom". The arrangement of associations is already clear before you hear those names. You'd have to be pretty cheeky under such tense circumstances to point out the irony associated with naming such names.
Standing there in a main vein of the Cold War amid so many contradictions managed to make a Strangelove moment out of the, then, race to exponentialize mutually assured destruction by the presidential administration of which I was a meaningful representative only by association: The amusement of the moment made me wish I could project precious bodily fluids onto the negotiating table that straddled the line between truth and lies standing there in front of me.
Fast forward to a new age of apparent avuncular incoherence. If you have not followed American politics, you might not know anything about the polar shift that's taken place. In the period mentioned above, a sort of "reds under the bed" doom mongering was extended for decades by Republicans to associate with Soviet Russia anyone who'd oppose their belligerent set of military and fiscal ideology, and accuse eyes that roll at such innuendo as rolling with the program of communist totalitarianism.
Today there's an accusation used by Democrats to associate people skeptical of their policies with doing the work of the Russian president. If you're a "both parties do it" kind of person, you might not think this is significant, and it remains true that its bipartisanship that matters most when it comes to the things that will screw the most people over, but a snapshot of what most people consider plausible is meaningful to the messengers of statecraft, which is why there's a steady flow of carrot and stick implications to believing or disbelieving official narratives. You can remain untainted by association if you keep your doubts to yourself. To question official narratives is to agree to be shamed.
Between the US State Department's claim a couple of week's ago and today, the official narrative has indeed shaped up to be a partially plausible. What began as a series of allegations regarding a Russian plan to invade Ukraine, having been expanded to include the assertion that US intelligence has proof of a Russian plan to use a false flag scenario to justify the invasion, now has the US saying that their frequent updates, which recently included a specific date, are meant to serve the additional purpose of preventing their near certain predictions from happening at all.
I say this is plausible because it had already occurred to me before they made it explicit. It's important to distinguish that this does not mean the alleged intelligence is the plausible part, just that it is plausible that someone might accuse someone else of planning something in order to preempt it. This has the added benefit of rendering the accuser benevolent in their accusations, whether they are true or not.
The arrangement of associations here are both big and small. Big, meaning a big country with historical DNA-like associations: bloody revolution, collectivization of private property, evil empire, totalitarian state of oligarchs with a murderous ruler at the helm. Less associated with it is that in between it became one in a long line of states that were the object of clever US election meddling, which may or may not be why they'd want to meddle in those of the US. Most plausible is that given the resources, meddlers are gonna meddle.
There used to be, and may still be, a doctrine, or policy, that said it's best not to assassinate other countries' leaders lest you justify the assassination of your own. When you are a nation with spies worthy of a franchise of cinematic cash cows that may or may not serve equally well as vehicular propaganda, it's plausible you'd officially sanction such a policy while running afoul of it behind the scenes. Only for freedom, mind you.
I bring up assassination because of one of its most immediate associations: JFK. The narrative behind the narrative of the Warren Commission was that Lee Harvey Oswald was acting as an agent of the Soviet Union. The purpose of the Warren Commission was to put this to rest so as to avoid an international incident. This low-key accuses the commies, but insists upon a lone gunman. If and when "all the files are released", you can bet it'll be the commies what did it. I imagine a time when everyone agrees that it was a murder planned and coordinated by the CIA to counter a planned detente with the Soviets, whereby the only disagreement will be whether or not it was a good thing.

Back to the present and the small arrangement of associations. In the above linked video of the ex-spook US State Department guy alleging evidence of a future false flag, the journalist likens the spokesperson's claim to "Alex Jones" type stuff, which is his way of associating the narrative with the promulgation of unfounded and outlandish conspiracy theory. The spokesman responds by suggesting the journalist is more comfortable as an apologist for the president of Russia. This is not stuff you can't make up, but stuff being made up all the time.

You could also make an association between the current war of words and the Cuban Missile crisis. Except, if you're a westerner, this'd make you an apologist at best and a traitor on Twitter until further notice. It's fair if your point is that the parallels are paltry compared to the differences. It's plausible that Ukraine today, as with Cuba during the crisis, represents a border state attempting to further associate with a traditional adversary. The US is a dominant military force. It's not absurd to liken the potential of NATO nukes so near the Russian border to the presence of those, then, in Cuba, as long as you lead with the fact that NATO and US nukes are good and Russian nukes are bad.
Other differences between then and now are that the Soviet Union hadn't in the years leading to the crisis demanded that its allies not import US energy resources or face sanctions. If you thought about it long enough, you might wonder how Germany and the EU could have for so long allowed themselves to associate with a pipeline of enormous time and production cost, only to attempt to disassociate themselves from it when it was so close to coming online. It's the little coincidences in life that make it interesting.

It's interesting that there are people who know false flags so well that, in exposing one planned by the enemy, they would risk reminder of a guilt by historical association. All so they can save the world for freedom. That's double-plus good. Like, when referencing troops or military exercises or espionage, a contextual association would be enough. You wouldn't have to choose between deploy & amass, train & intimidate, neutralize & assassinate, but somehow it would come naturally anyway.

Imagine the international intrigue if there were an arbiter of all things USA from another part of the globe whose alliance would give all of the Gulf of Mexico to Mexico. If you don't believe a promise to keep NATO west of the Elbe was given, you might imagine there's an ongoing adherence to treaties with indigenous people. I got your bridge right here.
Of course we're good and they're bad. That's always the case. Your arrangement hinges on who you associate with. If you don't see yourself associating with anyone in this scenario, it can't be easy to make sense of it, but as soon as you associate with one or the other, it all becomes clear.
So in the moments ahead rife with accusations and counter-accusations of provoking aggression or the breach of ceasefire (which's already buried what the Ukrainian President had to say), it'll be simply by dint of the arrangement of associations that you'll know who and what to believe. Feel good about your inborn arrangement, or suffer the shame of your uncertainty.