Info Wars and the Rebirth of Western Civilization

  • by Pete O'Brien
  • 02-27-2022

The war is on in Ukraine, the Russians are advancing, sometimes well, mostly not so well. They are taking some ground but also taking losses. It’s fair to say that they are winning the conventional aspects of this war, but not nearly as well as they thought they would. Mainly, what they have over the Ukrainian forces is raw numbers.

But there’s a facet of this war that they are losing, hand over fist, and that is the “information war.” Really, it’s a matter of perceptions.

Russia, if it can bring its full power into the conflict, can “beat up” Ukraine. It wouldn’t be pretty, it wouldn’t go smoothly and they’d probably take dreadful losses. 

But no matter what, they have already lost the info war, the war on perceptions.

No one will like them after this, with the possible exception of Beijing, no one will really want to be friends with or allied to the Russians. Long after Vladimir Putin is dead, and death comes to us all, Russia will be remembered for his mess.

What can we learn from all this?

In 1964 the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “the medium is the message,” meaning that the medium (he was referring to modern communications technology) forged and governed how people act and interact.

McLuhan, a convert to Catholicism, a believer in traditional morality, would probably be very pleased that there seems to be something more than the medium at work here. Perhaps, what we’re witnessing in Ukraine is that, under extreme stress, the message breaks through the medium, and that message is a good one.

Even as the Russian army presses on (at the time of this writing there’s reporting that they’ve forced their way into Kharkov, Ukraine’s second largest city), the real story being told is one of Ukrainian heroics, of a handful of common border guards on a tiny island resisting the Russian Navy, knowing it would probably cost them their lives; a comedian turned politician turned president of a country, telling a confused old man “I need ammunition, not a ride;” a champion boxer turned mayor of a city, enlisting with his brother - also a champion boxer - to fight for what is right; average citizens refusing to evacuate, staying back, and making Molotov cocktails.

Simple values, hard values, are winning here. We’re not seeing situational ethics, we’re not seeing globalism and we’re not seeing Hollywood’s flexible morality. We are seeing hard commitment to right versus wrong, nation and right and morals before self. We are seeing people fight and die for freedom rather than live on bended knee.

In a very real sense we are seeing a contest between Western Civilization and dictatorship. Is it clean, are all Ukrainians saints, and all the dead martyrs? No. But they never are. But that doesn’t change the real message: there are absolute rights and wrongs, freedom counts, individuals count, leaders fight for their people.

Even though the governments of many of the NATO countries did NOT rise to the occasion, even though the response from Washington was at first a series of milquetoast sanctions, the average citizens of Ukraine, and average citizens elsewhere, supporting Ukraine’s freedom, pressured the weak-minded, sometimes spineless leadership of the West, and forced them to start acting. 

It may be too late for Ukraine, but maybe not. This fight is by no means over yet. It is always good to remember what Churchill said about wars:
Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Antiquated War Offices, weak, incompetent, or arrogant Commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant Fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations — all take their seats at the Council Board on the morrow of a declaration of war. Always remember, however sure you are that you could easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance.

But even if Ukraine falls, I pray it does not, we can take the lessons they are teaching and apply them elsewhere, to include sending a few signals to Russia and China:
Let’s begin with creating a real problem. It should be the policy of NATO, beginning with the border states - Romania, Moldova, Hungary Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland (after Finland joins NATO) - that all adults will be armed with an AK-47 or M-4, web gear, 10 magazines and 500 rounds of ammunition. Every police station will be provided with two belt-fed machine guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as 5 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and 5 Javelin anti-tank missiles.

When the border states are all so armed, the rest of NATO should be pressed do the same thing. Europe should be made a “pill that could never be swallowed.”

Let’s re-establish full diplomatic relations with the Republic of China, then press them to accept the same arrangement for arming the citizenry. Press the Republic of Korea and Japan to do the same.

Energy - 13 months ago the US was a net exporter of energy. We need to undo the decisions that so damaged our energy industry, and recharge US production. 

We need to nearly double electricity output by 2050. Nuclear energy is safe. It’s time to start building nuclear power plants, nuclear power is the only way ahead.

Free trade is a wonderful thing - when it’s free. We never had free trade with China and there is no reason to believe we ever will. Let’s end all the good deals with China, and lets take a hard look at bringing jobs back to the US.

In the meantime, China would do well to take a hard look at how well this went. Everyone, particularly those in the Kremlin, thought Ukraine would be a cake walk. I bet the folks in Beijing thought so, too. Not quite.

And Russia invaded across mainly flat, open grassland. Invading across 100 miles of water will be a tiny bit more complicated. And assuming you get there, perhaps you’ll find several million ROC citizens holding AK-47s, several tens of thousands of Stingers and Javelins in their hands, and an equal determination to live free or die trying.