“In war, truth is the first casualty.” This quote has been attributed to Aeschylus, a 6th BCE Greek tragedian noted for his “copious use of imagery, mythic allusion, grand language, wordplay and riddles.” It is only fitting, therefore, that the man who first gave word to the concept of modern-day war-time propaganda would see his quote come to life in the present-day Ukraine. The Kiev government and their Western information warfare advisers may have coopted all of Aeschylus’ playwright devices to craft a modern-day tragedy in the Ukrainian town of Bucha that exemplifies the notion of the lie as not just a byproduct, but also a weapon of war.
The main source of the Bucha tragedy reports is a videotape, taken by the Ukrainian National Police, of one of their convoys driving through a street in the town. A dozen or so corpses litter the roadway, many of them appearing to have been bound. This video has gone viral, producing a pandemic of anguish and anger that has swept over much of the world, capturing the attention of heads of state and the head of the Catholic Church alike, resulting in a tidal wave of condemnation and outrage directed at Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. The cause-and-effect relationship between the video and the global backlash is clear – the former could not exist without the latter.
One of the first lessons of objectivity is to slow things down to make sure that fact is not obscured by emotion. The Bucha videotape is disturbing. The video has been released in its present form, it appears, with the express intent of producing a visceral “shock and awe” moment for the viewer. If this was indeed the case, then those who released it – the Ukrainian National Police – have succeeded beyond their wildest imagination. Or that of their advisors, as the case may be.
The linkage between the dead and the Russian military was established immediately, without any fact-based data to back it up, and subsequently echoed in all forms of media – mainstream and social alike. Anyone who dared question the established “Russia did it” narrative was shouted down and belittled as a “Russian shill,” or worse.
That these conclusions are the byproduct of mass hysteria is beside the point – why seek to be objective when the narrative fits every stereotype that had been carefully assembled beforehand by the same people parroting the Bucha story today. Social “preconditioning” of an audience unused to critical thinking is an essential step in getting this audience to accept at face value anything that is put before it, regardless of how egregiously the facts of the story strain credulity. And let’s be clear – the Ukrainian narrative of the events in Bucha seems to stretch credibility.