I grew up in a large family. All but one of us children were boys. Like boys often do, brotherly taunts and squabbles could at time give way to furious fights. While not unusual, the odd thing about families is that there’s a kind of cohesiveness that generally holds them together when the threats come from outside. Though at “war” with one another as we at times seemed to be, it was nevertheless true that against outsiders, we quickly rejoined ranks to thwart the interlopers. Right or wrong, after all, these were my brothers, and our fraternal bonds were far stronger. Ever did we automatically take one another’s side over outsiders, often without thought and consideration, but by mere reflex of habitual fraternal loyalty. This was our brotherly version of “politics end at the water’s edge.” The problem with this, occasionally, is that at times, it led us to support brothers who may have acted badly outside our borders. The baseline assumption was ever that our brothers were right, and this was sometimes a mistaken conclusion. When these things happen on the scale of a family, they can be forgiven as acts of fraternal loyalty. When they happen on the scale of nations and continents, and indeed the globe, we have a deeper responsibility to examine the actions and intentions of our own brethren. The folly in failing to do so could be catastrophic. We Americans have been coming to grasp that our government is thoroughly corrupted, and that it bears no resemblance to the ideals it renders as a mask. “Truth, Justice and the American way” have been replaced with “Justice and Truth are what we tell you, and that is the American way.” Is Putin’s allegation true in any measure? He says the West, starting with the United States, has become an “Empire of Lies.”
Self-appointed President-for-Life Vladimir Putin is a professional liar. To be in the intelligence operation of the former Soviet KGB is to act as the bodyguard of a colossal set of lies. Make no mistake about it: Putin is not a trustworthy man, and all of his words are laced with falsehoods, half-truths and distortions, all aimed at disarming his audience to make them easier to overwhelm. His work truly is the province of pure information warfare, but like all such warfare, it relies on kernels and nuggets of truth. If he were to suggest that Zelenskiy is the agent of aliens, or that Joe Biden is a failed alien-human hybrid, we’d be right to discount everything he says. What makes some of his propaganda somewhat successful, I’m afraid, is that he attacks at our points of true weakness: He attacks our Western governments’ most fundamental lies. This does not mean that we should take anything he says at face value, but in examining his words, we should be careful to heed the dangerous truths he’ll happily employ to sow chaos and dissention among us. It is those small but glaringly significant truths we must hasten to address, not in answer to the Russian dictator, but in honest and truthful appraisal of our own condition and situation.
Where the Western foreign policy and intelligence establishment is concerned, we have been an “Empire of Lies” for many years. One can go back much further in our history than the post-World War II environment to find lies, but they became systematized and ingrained beginning roughly during the Second World War. This is when the first widespread programs of war propaganda were employed by the United States, not merely against its enemies, but particularly against its own citizens. Remember “Rosie the Riveter?” She was a fictional character used to implore more women to join the war’s industrial workforce. Whether it was good or bad; right or wrong, it was war propaganda deployed against the American people. Many countries produced this sort of propaganda. In some instances, such propaganda was disguised as “news.” Soviet Russia was a gargantuan producer of war propaganda. At some points in the war, propaganda and the ferocity of the fighting it inspired was their most important weapon.
Nowadays, propaganda is generally more nuanced, though outlets like PBS and NPR do their best to engage in full-time propagandization. One way or another, it’s in everything you will see or hear from those outlets. It’s in their news, but also in their programming for children. It’s in everything. Of course, the private-sector media is little different. They tend to be somewhat less obvious, most of the time, but their messaging is polluted with propaganda of some sort virtually every minute of every day, in this case on behalf of paying customers, some governmental, but also some in the private sector. This is how you get to the spectacle of CNN, with a huge proportion of its current sponsorship being the large pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer.
Over the last several years, any person who pays even passing attention to the so-called “news” cannot help but notice the frequency with which stories are later shown to have been mistaken, wrong, or entirely fabricated. Lately, it seems everything we hear in so-called mainstream media is a lie. It’s gotten so bad that many people now assume that to get to the truth of a story, all they need do is simply turn on MSNBC and believe the exact opposite of whatever its anchors spew, and they’re not far off. “Reverse-viewing” our mainstream media is not a bad tactic, and more people are now employing it.
What astonishes me most, however, is how many of my fellow Americans simply forget from time-to-time what it is that they’re listening to, or who actually crafted the messages they’re hearing. A good example at this moment in history is the War in Ukraine. How much of the “news” we’re receiving is real? How much of it is fabrication? Somehow, some people who are ordinarily, rightfully skeptical of our media seem to adopt the notion of fraternal suspension of doubt when we get to the water’s edge.
I will not here allege that Vladimir Putin is a “good guy.” I don’t believe that for a moment, but my own biases about the dictator aside, I must ask, if I’m to be honest: How do I know anything at all about Putin? How have my impressions about him been formed, and is it unusual that they’re almost uniformly bad? Remember in 2016 when Trump made mention that Putin was a strong leader for his country? What Trump was stating quite factually, in the way he does, is that Putin, whatever else you might say about him, is a strong leader for his country. Whatever else I might say of Putin, this seems to be true. Do you remember what happened next, after Trump had made this pronouncement? Yes, the whole world of American politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, shouted him down with a cacophonous, screeching rebuke. The media mocked him, the late-night “comics” lambasted him, and he was roundly presented either as a rube or as a stooge. Why? Even if he had been wrong, surely potential voters would recognize this and turn away. You see, the problem was that he challenged a long-nurtured, well-constructed, widely-disseminated narrative about Vladimir Putin. That was Trump’s central offense at that moment.
It’s not that I think Putin’s right to invade Ukraine — quite the contrary — but there are some truths we must examine in our own back yard even as we confront him. The so-called DeepState, spread across countries and continents, really is that Empire of Lies about which Putin speaks. They lie to us systematically, and they defraud us consistently. They use the intelligence assets for which we pay against us, and even against our President. To call the DeepState a “cabal” is to understate its reach and influence by many orders of magnitude. Pointing out this particular Empire of Lies does not, however, make Putin our friend. What it should cause instead is that we seek to remove and demolish the DeepState before it can cause us a catastrophe. It won’t make the problem with Putin disappear, but it might prevent the next one.
After all, as I covered on Sunday morning, the Biden administration, through its agents, officers and operatives, made certain that the most threatening view of Ukraine be presented to Putin. Would Putin have invaded Ukraine had he not been led to believe its membership in NATO was imminent? It was this same “Empire of Lies” which left him with that unambiguous perception. We may never know how much this particular manipulation played into Putin’s actions against Ukraine, but it almost certainly didn’t help matters.
Put it another way: How many of the people now sternly denouncing Putin either have some interests of their own in Ukraine, or have clear associations with this “Empire of Lies?” Notice that even now, as the West announces more sanctions against Russia, including banning Russian banks from the SWIFT payments system, what they struggle to de-emphasize is the single word: “some.” One must read beyond the headlines in this era of entirely propagandized media narratives. The headline blares:
What they omit from the headline is a single, but important word: “Some.” This is done to conceal from you the whole truth, by telling you a lie by omission. Many people read only headlines. Often, truths like this will be buried deep in a story, or even in a linked sub-stories. This way, they can later have claimed to tell you the truth while trying to engineer some cheap mis/disinformation. Clearly, Western “mainstream media” is a fully functional organ of the “Empire of Lies.” When you dig around in this story, and chase the story across many platforms, “some” gives way to “select.” Then “select” gives way to “key.” In the end, you realize that this is a mostly symbolic ban to the degree it’s a ban at all.
This is a story of intense importance, not because Putin’s a trustworthy source, but because we already know that our own “mainstream” sources are completely unreliable. I’m not making a case on Putin’s behalf. That’s in no way related to my point. Putin is merely picking at a scab barely covering a deep wound of which we are already domestically aware. That he opportunistically pecks at our wounds does not mean we should ignore them. What I intend to provoke here is the idea that Americans should begin to doubt everything, to avoid making the error of alleged fraternal trust in our media and governments, not because we should trust Putin, but because we too easily trust our own government and media, often at our own peril. Look how frequently and easily they’ve blatantly lied to us in recent years. Why would this story be any different? I’ve been scanning a variety of foreign news outlets, particularly European, and they seem, as ever, to be singing from the same basic hymnal as our own. Take away the foreign accents and cultural differences, and the stories could have been produced just as easily by CNN or MSNBC. Sky News, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, and many others are examples. Sometimes, your own “brother” is lying to you, and you’d do well to see it. At this scale, the stakes are simply too great, and we cannot permit alleged familial bonds to blind us to the monsters operating happily within our own Western and American families. While we’re quite right to doubt most anything that issues forth from Putin’s lips, we should exercise no less caution in evaluating the pronouncements of our own government and media. They lie to us daily. For the average citizen, this begins to take on all the appearances of a war among rival gangs of villains, with ordinary people, as ever, caught squarely in the middle.