Punchbooks has posted this cartoon from April 16, 1919, in which British Prime Minister David Lloyd George cheerfully presents the Paris Peace Agreement, citing the 1895 Punch cartoon which had turned an old joke into a permanent part of the culture:
Parts of the agreement that ended the First World War were excellent, but it wasn’t called the “First World War” until the shortcomings of the treaty brought on a second, a bit of history our fathers — well, my father, perhaps your grandfather — had to deal with, and which explains why World War II was fought not to another armistice but to total, brutal, absolute defeat and an unconditional surrender.
Followed in Europe by the Marshall Plan from the West and the Iron Curtain from the East and Cold War for everyone.
Thereby hang several tales, including the one we’re currently spinning.
“Spinning” being an appropriate choice of words, as Pat Byrnes points out, with the Ukrainians claiming the sinking of the cruiser Moskva, flag of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, while Russia insists it was an accident, that the ship was damaged by an internal fire and explosion, then sank in a storm that somehow didn’t register on any weather reports in the area.
They may both be right, at least to the extent that Ukraine hit the Moskva with Neptune missiles and the Moskva, in the first place, failed to protect itself and then, following the hits, failed to control the damage.
For a basic overview of the event, this thread is enlightening. It was posted by Gen. Mark Hertling, whose qualifications are beyond challenge, while for geeks who want a more granular explanation, Oryx — a very well informed insider source — offers all the technical stuff you could possibly digest.
Losing the Moskva will not end the war, though it seriously impedes any intentions of launching an amphibious invasion along the Ukrainian cost. More important, however, is the morale boost for Ukraine and what would be a morale killer for the Russians.
Except, as Jimmy Margulies (KFS) points out, most Russians will hear only of the accident and the storm, though the failures of the Russian invasion have to be weighing on Putin and his inner circle and this catastrophe is a very large brick in a looming wall.
As that technical worker observes, of course, the facts remain in the cloud — the real one as well as Putin’s mental one — and those who question Moscow’s version of events can find the truth, if they have the Internet skills.
However, besides the insight to question the Official Version, they require not just some skills at finding other sources, but at recognizing propaganda, since both sides are spinning like crazy, and, meanwhile, Facebook’s blind imposition of “community standards” appears to be stifling independent journalism from both that war and the drastic situation in Afghanistan.
It’s not clear who we should fear more, Putin or Zuckerberg, but they both seem determined to prove that the first casualty of war is truth, and Quote Investigator has a particularly fascinating examination of that one.
I especially like Samuel Johnson’s variation, which includes our own motivation in the matter:
Among the calamities of War may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.
Wimpy adds another traditional saying to things, though, oddly enough, we seem to have fewer chickenhawks at the moment than we do people eager to swallow Putin’s version of things simply to show their independence of thought and their distaste for Joe Biden.
Granted, it not only requires them to believe in that mysterious, invisible ship-sinking storm, but to understand why the accident has Moscow swearing revenge on the nation they insist had nothing to do with it. (See Johnson quote, above, and add in the Dunning-Kruger effect.)
Part of the problem is illustrated in this F-Minus (AMS), though it’s not just that people can’t seem to understand the process of triage by which some stories get wider play than others.
A greater problem seems to be that, while they are no longer bound by what they are fed by three networks and their local newspaper, they have no grasp of how algorithms and their own selection of “friends” and “follows” dictates what they see.
Facebook — and, to a lesser effect, Twitter — plays, as noted above and elsewhere, a role in pushing material that will encourage clicks at the expense of balance, but there is also the factor of the people you choose to surround yourself with and the things you decide to like and share.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Mind you, even honest commentary can show significant differences.
Rogers accuses NATO of sleeping on the job, while Kallaugher depicts it as holding back the bear, despite the misgivings of Putin’s friend in France.
The quick riposte to Rogers is to point out that NATO is a defensive alliance of European nations which does not include Chechnya, Syria or Ukraine. To that extent, he might as well criticize SEATO for not intervening, or cite the Monroe Doctrine as a compelling reason for us to step in.
However, war in Europe is an issue for NATO, particularly since it has expanded from its post-WWII status to include some Eastern European nations.
But that’s what we see in Kallaugher’s cartoon, because, while NATO has not sent combat troops into Ukraine (there is a report that Britain has special forces there training Ukrainians, and who knows what else is going on under the counter?), they strongly support the nation, and have recently increased their already bold policy of actively supplying Ukraine with arms.
As for “Sleepy Joe,” he may be quietly playing Putin the way Putin played his predecessor: Russia sent the US a firm warning to stop shipping arms to Ukraine, and the next day, as Sam Williams shows it, Biden announced a new package.
Ah well. You know what they say in Ukraine.