Stop Believing: Be Skeptical of the Civilian-casualty Narrative
As I’ve said before, in a full-scale war, no one gets out with clean hands. In any war, both sides are going to kill some innocent civilians and each side is going to downplay its own excesses and highlight the enemy’s. Though we’d like to, we cannot avoid what we all know is the terrible answer to this question: When has any side in any war stopped fighting because of civilian casualties?
In such a context, by no means should anyone believe either the report or denial of an atrocity on the basis of statements from the warring parties and their interested allies alone. To decide what version of events one thinks is true, it is necessary to critically analyze the versions of the interested parties and seek information from as many independent sources as possible who have demonstrated their honesty, fairness, and reliability in such situations.
We’ve had decades of “aggression and atrocity” lies to justify the U.S. going to war — Vietnam’s attack on U.S. ships in the Tonkin Gulf, Iraqi soldiers dumping babies from incubators in Kuwait, WMDs in Iraq, Viagra-pumped Ghaddafi rapist soldiers in Libya, Syrian government poison gas attacks on their own citizens in Syria, etc. In this very conflict, within the space of ten days, we’ve had a number of blatant lies loudly promoted and then demurely retracted — the ghost fighter pilot of Kiev, the heroic Snake Island martyrs who fought to their death, the vicious Russian tank driver who crushed a car, the non-existent then “dangerous” biological research labs, etc. So, I think it’s imperative that Americans not believe, on first hearing, the atrocity reports coming from the media that peddled and memory-holed all those lies.
The U.S. and Western media have demonstrated that they are interested parties, allies and voices of the Kiev government (ward of the U.S. government), who accept and transmit as true any of that government’s accounts of Russian crimes. Without any further proof, they will maintain the truth of those accounts, until and unless someone else (they will never look) provides irrefutable counter-evidence they cannot ignore. Their attitude, which they have successfully inculcated in most of their American audience, is that what Kiev says [can] must be taken as true and what Russia says must be taken as false. It is the most dangerous attitude in the world.
In the present situation, it goes unremarked that Kiev forces continue to launch Grad rocket attacks on civilian areas of Donetsk and Lugansk, where they’ve already killed 14, 000 people, while headlines scream the stories of Russian attacks on civilian targets. Russian charges that nationalists are keeping civilians in the cities, setting explosives in buildings and playgrounds, shelling and mining humanitarian corridors, etc., are ignored, while Kiev’s claims that every civilian death by shelling in those corridors is the result of gratuitous Russian savagery are repeated as gospel.
It was to be expected that, once the narrative of the Ukrainian army’s unexpected underdog victory over Russia could no longer be sustained, the narrative of Russian atrocities would become paramount. After all, for Kiev, that dramatic narrative is the primary means to possibly induce US/NATO’s hoped-for intervention. The twin points of this narrative plot so far have been the allegations of Russia’s attacks on civilians attempting to leave encircled cities and Russia’s dastardly attacks on civilian infrastructure — the prime example of which is the destruction of a maternity hospital in Mariupol.
These charges — especially when buttressed by dramatic images-have an effect because they could be true, though it’s no less the case that these charges could be false — especially when there are dramatic images and strong testimony to that effect.
Russian forces are going to be more aggressive in their actions to clear and control surrounded cities, and this will cause more civilian casualties. The fighting will be nasty in those cities because, like Mariupol, a stronghold of the Azov Battalion, they are redoubts of the most rabid fascist fighters. These are the “right-wing Ukrainian nationalists” who took Mariupol in 2014, and whom the U.S. press at the time reported as “committing ‘ISIS-Style’ war crimes,” like sending to the mother of an LDPR rebel her son’s head in a box.
These guys are going to be more determined and ruthless, and they have an interest in, and no compunction about, preventing civilians from leaving, in order to use them as human shields and increase the count of worthy victims of Russian aggression. This is a result that they and their U.S. sponsors know, even if it doesn’t bring the NATO cavalry to their rescue now, will serve to bolster the narrative for supporting future anti-Russian actions.
So which is the truer — i.e., fairer and more reliable — account of what’s happening with civilian casualties? I don’t think it’s necessary to repeat the MSM-Kiev-US/NATO version; I do think it’s necessary that we not accept it as true by default, and look at the contrary evidence which is out there-which they will never show you, and will indeed try to prevent you from seeing.
Here, for example, is a Ukrainian family telling how Ukrainian forces were shelling residential neighborhoods “to force more people to converge on the city center,” “to show the whole world images of Russia and the DPR killing civilians,” and “to create the impression this was done by Russian troops”:
Here’s a Russian negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, explaining that, during the ceasefire to enable civilian evacuations, the Russians provided 400 buses and “Nobody came. So, the only explanation for that is that the Ukraine government does not control the armed forces in the surrounded cities…They don’t let the people go out. They keep it as a human shield…The cease-fire is not kept by the Ukrainian side. They still continue to fire from time to time, and make people afraid to go out.”
Note (3/11/2022): I originally posted this video from YouTube, and they quickly removed it. I have since found it on Odysee and uploaded it into this post. I’ll also keep the following video that I had uploaded as a replacement.
Here is a picture of the maternity hospital in Mariupol, which Kiev, the US/NATO, and, speaking for them, the Western MSM say was hit by Russia on March 9th. It is a large building of more than a hundred rooms, evidently impacted by a huge explosion-which, according to a CNN report, injured “at least” 17 people. As MoonofAlabama notes, the video in that report “shows the completely destroyed interior of the hospital but no casualties and no traces of blood on the floors.”
And here, via MoonofAlabama, is an interview published on March 7th with a refugee from Mariupol:
Igor said that in the last days of February, people in uniform came to the maternity hospital where his mother works. He does not know whether they were fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine or the nationalist battalion “Azov”…The military knocked down all the locks, dispersed the staff of the maternity hospital, and set up firing points in the building in order, as they explained to the doctors, to prepare the “fortress of Mariupol” for defense. The reaction of the military to objections is standard: blows with rifle butts, shooting into the air.
And here’s a statement made to the UN Security Council on March 7th by Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s Permanent Representative:
Ukrainian radicals show their true face more distinctly by the day. Locals reports that Ukraine’s Armed Forces kicked out personnel of natal hospital #1 of the city of Mariupol and set up a firing site within the facility. Besides, they fully destroyed one of the city’s kindergartens.
So, was this a working maternity hospital with a hundred rooms filled with mothers, babies, doctors, and nurses, among which there were 17 initial injuries, or a building emptied of hospital personnel weeks ago by AFU/Azov and turned into a “firing site”? What is the impression the MSM has given you? Were Igor the refugee’s and the UN representative’s statements to the latter effect, made on March 7th, some kind of proactive set-up to whitewash an event they knew was going to happen two days later? Do the MSM reports, which give a definite impression, provide evidence that actually definitively contradicts those statements? Note that, according to the city council of Azov-controlled Mariupol, it’s a “facility where the children were treated recently.”
Everyone will have to decide for themselves what is the more plausible scenario, but no one has any more reason to believe the Kiev/NATO-US/MSM version than Igor’s. Nobody speaking on the Russian/LDPR side — nobody in the world! — is more untrustworthy than the Western political and media spokespersons. Skepticism is warranted all around.
The Russian-atrocity narrative is going to get more insistent as the battle proceeds, and we know the reason why. And some of it will be true. The Kiev/Azov-atrocity narrative will not be told at all, no matter how much of it is true. As with every such situation, we are not going to get widely accepted answers as to who caused now many and which civilian casualties in this battle of Ukraine and the war it’s part of until it’s long over, if ever. Nobody’s getting out with clean hands. Politics is not the art of washing one’s hands.
There is no alternative for Americans who are interested in understanding the situation fairly and truthfully than to make the effort it does take to stop believing by default the sources that have been lying to us for decades (and in this very situation), and investigate as many sources of information and analysis as possible — especially the ones they don’t want you to see.
Related articles: The Battle of Ukraine and the War It’s Part Of, Path to War, New World Order. The US Lost. From 2014: Charge of the Right Brigade: Ukraine and the Dynamics of Capitalist Insurrection, Good for the Gander: Ukraine’s Demise Accelerates. From 2018: The Warm War: Russiamania At The Boiling Point.
Originally published at http://www.thepolemicist.net.