Russian Propaganda? Ukraine Crisis in Light of Texas History
Russian Propaganda? Ukraine Crisis in Light of Texas History
First, let’s acknowledge the basic flaw of recorded history: Our understanding of history depends on who wrote it; i.e. it is, and always has been influenced by propaganda. The Russians have a very different perspective on the heroes of WWII than the Americans. The Mexicans have a very different perspective on Texas history and the US-Mexican War than Americans. The point is so obvious that the phrase “History is written by the victors” is almost clichéd.
If our human experience proves we can’t even agree on how past events happened, it is certain we won’t be able to agree while they are happening and in flux. I.e. reporting will be biased just as history is. The forthcoming and varying historical accounts of Barack Obama’s presidency will be mind-boggling. Which account will make it into standard US history books? It will be a bitter and divisive, no-holds-barred fight.
Back to Ukraine.
The pot is calling the kettle black; i.e. the US is accusing Russia of waging an unrelenting propaganda war re: events in Ukraine.
I’ll take Russia’s side because few others are, and they are obviously on the short end of the stick vs. the globally powerful US propaganda machine (Google “Operation Mockingbird” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mockingbird ). Does anyone really believe the US is wholly un-engaged in a Ukraine propaganda war? Only the most naive Pollyanna would believe American hands are entirely clean and intentions benevolent in this situation.
The Russian government; i.e. Moscow is accused of intentionally destabilizing Ukraine by providing arms and personnel in various forms to the separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Depending on the source, these people are called “freedom fighters” or “terrorists”. That’s a wide gap of understanding friends. Who is right? Whom should we believe?
Let’s re-visit capsule summaries of Texas history and the US-Mexican War to get closer to the truth on what’s likely happening in Ukraine. I.e. the basic human behaviour driving both conflicts…history repeats itself.
- The Mexican government invited American settlers into the sparsely populated area we now call Texas.
- There were frequent political and cultural clashes between the Mexican government and the American settlers.
- In time, for various reasons, most notably a set of “Seven Laws” imposed upon the settlers by a new conservative government in Mexico, these new Mexican citizens decided they no longer wished to be part of Mexico, but wanted to retain their lands. The “Seven Laws” were highly unpopular, and also resulted in secessionist movements in other Mexican states besides Texas.
- The settlers declared independence from Mexico and waged war against them.
- American citizens and even citizens of several other countries joined the settlers in their secessionist war against the Mexican government. List of the soldiers and their nationalities / origin: http://www.thealamo.org/history/the-1836-battle/the-defenders/index.html …from thoughout the US, plus England, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany.
- The war was extremely lopsided against the “Texian” settlers, culminating in the Alamo and Goliad massacres.
- These massacres were a rallying cry which drew additional “freedom fighters” and mercenaries from the US to join the Texian settlers secessionist war. There were repeated pleadings on behalf of the secessionists for the US to intervene and defeat the Mexican army. Some Texians wanted an independent “Republic of Texas”, and some wanted immediate annexation into the US.
- As a result, the Mexican President had the Mexican Congress issue a warning to the Americans and mercenaries who were flooding into Texas to support the secessionist war:
Foreigners landing on the coast of the Republic or invading its territory by land, armed, and with the intent of attacking our country, will be deemed pirates and dealt with as such, being citizens of no nation presently at war with the Republic and fighting under no recognized flag. All foreigners who shall import, by either sea or land, in the places occupied by the rebels, either arms or ammunition or any kind for their use, will be deemed pirates and punished as such.
- The Mexican President sent a warning to US President Andrew Jackson that any American citizen caught aiding and abetting the Texian secession on Mexican soil would be executed immediately. That warning was not significantly broadcast by the US government to potential “freedom fighters” and mercenaries. Implicit US support for the secession and later annexation?
- Shortly thereafter, the Mexican army conducted a massacre at Goliad which was apparently so cruel it drew the US, Great Britain, and France into emotional sympathy with the Texian secessionists and changed the tide of the conflict.
- Chased almost out of Texas by an overwhelmingly superior Mexican army, by sheer luck, the Texian forces caught the Mexican army taking their midday siesta nap, and captured the Mexican President who was leading the army. War over. Texas became an independent nation for a short period, with enduring Mexican-Texian skirmishes which finally ended when the US annexed Texas into the US and declared war on Mexico.
- By the end of the US-Mexican war, the US had taken Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico from Mexico, for the pittance of US$15 million.
Does any of this sound familiar today?
Is our irrational fear of Russia’s intentions in Ukraine based upon our own rather sordid behaviour with Mexico? Do we really believe Russia will pull a page out of this American playbook in Ukraine?
We accuse Russia of aiding and abetting / supporting “freedom fighters” and mercenaries from Russia and Chechnya in the Eastern Ukraine conflict, and this is our primary rationale for creating a significant threat to world economic prosperity and peace in response via aggressive rhetoric / sanctions / international isolation strategy against Russia. Our own history demonstrates it’s a normal human behaviour to join underdog “freedom fights” with your cultural brothers wherever they may be, and that our own government did little to suppress those instincts in similar circumstances. Do we not “get” the human element of this moment, and that perhaps the Russian government does not fully control these freedom fighters and mercenaries like puppets, and that the US, which runs Kiev by proxy, should also put the full weight of their influence behind an effort for peace as well? Let’s start with an immediate halt to civilian bombing raids by the Ukrainian air force. We broke it, and we know it. We aren’t fooling anyone but the most naive Pollyanna’s or uninformed of the world with our rhetoric.
Let’s consider the unfolding Ukraine crisis in light of our own history and expected human behaviour, and de-escalate this situation asap before we create long term damage to world peace and prosperity.
The unanticipated butterfly effects of this foolish US strategy are leading the world into a dangerous place. At the end of the day, when the dust settles, it will be the US that is isolated and weakened, not Russia. BRIC’s and blocs are forming quickly against us for various, interconnected reasons, and we need to exit this lunacy asap.
6 June 2014