Tuesday, August 1, 2023

The ‘Scandal Implosion’ Stratagem: Will It Work for Ukraine? By Alastair Crooke

Biden: “Putin has already lost the war … Putin has a real problem: How does he move from here? What does he do?” Secretary Blinken repeats ad infinitum the same mantra: ‘Russia has lost’. So does the head of MI6, and Bill Burns, the head of CIA, opines, (replete with snide asides) at the Aspen Security Conference, that not only has Putin ‘lost’, but further, that Putin is failing to keep a hold on a fragmenting Russian state, entering upon a likely death-spiral disintegration.

What is going on? Some suggest a psychic disorder or groupthink has seized the White House Team, resulting in the formation of a pseudo-reality, severed from the world, but unobtrusively shaped around wider ideological ends.

The parroting of dubious narrative however, morphs for the informed world into seeming western delusion – the world as the ‘Team’ imagines it to be, or more to the point, would like it to be.

This tight parroting though is clearly no ‘coincidence’. A clutch of high officials speaking to script and in concert are not deluded. They are mounting a new narrative. The ‘Russia has lost’ mantra defines the mega-narrative that has been decided. It is the prelude to an intense ‘blame game’: Project Ukraine ‘is failing because the Ukrainians are not implementing the doctrines received from NATO trainers – yet despite this, the war has shown that Putin has ‘lost’ too: Russia too, is weakened’.

This is another exemplar of the current western fixation on the idea that ‘narratives win wars’, and that set-backs in the battle space are incidentals. What matters is to have a thread of unitary narrative articulated across the spectrum, asserting firmly that the Ukraine ‘episode’ now is closed and should be ‘book-ended’ by the demand that we all ‘move on’.

The gist of it is that ‘We’ control narrative; us ‘winning’ and Russia losing, therefore, becomes inevitable. The flaw to this hubris is firstly that it puts the Administration ‘high priests’ at war with reality, and secondly, that the public long ago lost trust in mainstream media.

Jonathan Turley, a recognized legal scholar and Professor at Georgetown, who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory, draws attention to: “the last ditch effort of the members of Congress and the media to get the public to just ‘move on’ from the Biden corruption scandal”. The message, he writes, “is clear … Everybody needs to back off! … [However] as evidence and public interest increase, it is a bit late for spin or shiny objects”.

“This week, the scandal is likely to be even more serious for the Bidens and the country. The media is increasingly taking on the appearance of Leslie Nielsen in Naked Gun yelling that there is “nothing to see here” in front of a virtual apocalyptic scene of fire and destruction.”

What is the link to Ukraine? Well, a year ago, Professor Turley wrote that the political and media establishment would likely use a ‘scandal implosion’ approach to the corruption allegations as the evidence mounted. There would be an attempt to ‘cap off’ the scandal with Turley suggesting that the Justice Department would secure a ‘light plea’ by Hunter Biden on a couple of tax counts, with little or no jail time.

Well, that’s exactly what has occurred one year later. Then came the predicted ‘scandal implosion’: Hunter pleaded guilty to having delayed due tax payments – to a chorus of House members and the media shrugging off all other corruption allegations, and firmly declaring the scandal ‘closed’, together with the demand to “move on”. Turley notes however, “the media’s desire to “move on” from the scandal is reaching an almost frantic level, as millions in foreign payments and dozens of corporate shell companies are revealed – and incriminating emails are released”.

It is not clear that the stratagem will work. It is already in trouble.

The key elements to the ‘implosion stratagem’ are revealed as outright, unflinching denial that there is any ‘problem’ at all, and an obstinate refusal to concede even a scintilla to the notion of there being any type of failure. No need to look in the mirror.

This too was the modus operandi in respect to the Nordstream débacle (the destruction of the gas pipeline to Germany): Admit to nothing, and get the CIA to rustle up a ‘scandal implosion’ scenario. In this case, a nonsense diversionary story of a yacht with a few nefarious sub-aqua divers descending to 80-90 metres, without special equipment or using specialised gases, to lay and detonate explosive devices. No real investigation; ‘Nothing to see here’.

But as events in Germany indicate, the story is not believed; the coalition in Berlin is in deep trouble.

And now, the stratagem is being applied to Ukraine: The ‘Chorus’ cries out, ‘Putin has lost’, in spite of Ukraine messing up its chance to weaken Russia decisively. The hope is plain – that ‘Team Biden’ can steal away, undamaged, from devastating defeat, with ‘a scandal implosion’ mechanism already being primed (for after NATO’s summer ‘deadline’ to achieve a ‘win’): ‘We gave them everything – yet, the Ukrainians turned ‘their back’ on our expert advice for how to ‘win’ – and consequently have achieved nothing.

“Ukraine’s counter-offensive is failing to make progress because its army is not fully implementing training it has received from NATO, according to a leaked German intelligence assessment … Ukrainian soldiers trained by the West are showing “great learning success”; but they are let down by commanders who have not been through the [NATO] boot camps, it adds … the Ukrainian military favours promoting soldiers with combat experience, over those who have received NATO-standard instruction”.

Well, well? Like Afghanistan?

The war in Afghanistan was a sort of crucible, too. In very real terms, Afghanistan was turned into a testbed for every single innovation in NATO technocratic project management – with each innovation heralded as precursor to a game-changing future. Funds poured in; buildings were thrown up; and an army of globalised technocrats arrived to oversee the process. Big data, AI and the real-time utilization of ever expanding sets of technical surveillance and reconnaissance were to topple old ‘stodgy’ military doctrines. It was to be a showcase for technical managerialism. It presumed that a properly technical and scientific way of war clearly would prevail.

But technocracy as the only means of constructing a functional NATO-style military birthed instead, in Afghanistan, something thoroughly rotten – “data-driven defeat”, as one U.S. Afghan veteran described it, that it collapsed in a matter of days. In Ukraine, its forces were caught between Scylla and Charybdis: neither the armoured fist thrust taught by NATO to break the Russian defences, nor the alternative light infantry attacks were successful. Ukraine is suffering rather, a NATO-driven defeat.

Why then, opt to take reality ‘head-on’, with the snide insistence that Putin ‘has lost’? We do not, of course, know ‘the Team’s’ internal rationale. However, to open negotiations with Moscow in the hope of obtaining a ceasefire or a frozen conflict (to bolster the ‘Narrative’) would likely disclose a ‘Moscow’ as insistent only on Kiev’s full capitulation. And that would sit awkwardly with the ‘Putin losing story’.

Perhaps the calculus is to hope that between now and winter, public interest in Ukraine would have been so diverted by other events that the public might have ‘moved on’, and with blame clearly hung around the necks of Ukrainian Commanders showing “considerable deficiencies in leadership” which lead to “wrong and dangerous decisions” – by ignoring NATO-standard instruction.

Professor Turley concludes,

“None of this is going to work, of course. The public has lost trust in the media. Indeed, the “Let’s Go, Brandon” movement is as much a mocking of the media – as is a targeting of Biden”. “Polls show that the public is not “moving on” [from the Hunter allegations] and now view this as a major scandal. A majority believes that Hunter has received special protection in the investigation. While the media can continue to suppress the evidence and allegations within their own echo-chambered platforms – truth like water has a way of finding a way out”.

In effect, ‘events’ are marching forward – with or without the media.

And here is the crux: To the degree that Turley estimates the Biden affair constitutes a putative ‘apocalyptic site of domestic U.S. destruction’, so the West faces a yet more strategic defeat segueing out from its Ukraine project – for that defeat encompasses not just that of the Ukrainian battle-ground – It has destroyed the myth of NATO omnipotence. It has upended the story of ‘magical’ western weaponry. It has burst the image of western competence.

The stakes were never higher. Yet did the ruling-class think this through when they so lightly embarked on this ill-fated Ukraine ‘project’? Did the possibility of ‘failure’ even enter to their consciousness?

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