Thursday, March 24, 2022

Something Has Changed In U.S. War Messaging

 A threefer.

First up Joe Lauria writing an overview at Consortium News, March 23:

Pentagon Drops Truth Bombs to Stave Off War With Russia

Two leaked stories from the Pentagon have exposed the lies of mainstream media about how Russia is conducting the Ukraine war in a bid to counter propaganda intended to get NATO into the conflict, writes Joe Lauria.
The Pentagon is engaged in a consequential battle with the U.S. State Department and the Congress to prevent a direct military confrontation with Russia, which could unleash the most unimaginable horror of war.

President Joe Biden is caught in the middle of the fray. So far he is siding with the Defense Department, saying there cannot be a NATO no-fly zone over Ukraine fighting Russian aircraft because “that’s called World War III, okay? Let’s get it straight here, guys. We will not fight the third world war in Ukraine.”

“President Biden’s been clear that U.S. troops won’t fight Russia in Ukraine, and if you establish a no-fly zone, certainly in order to enforce that no-fly zone, you’ll have to engage Russian aircraft. And again, that would put us at war with Russia,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier this month. The administration plan is to bring down the Russian government through an economic war, not a military one.

But pressure on the White House from Congress and the press corps is unrelenting to recklessly bring NATO directly into the war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, hailed as a virtual superhero in Western media, has vacillated between openness to negotiating a peace settlement with Russia and calling for NATO to “close the skies” above Ukraine. To save his country he appears willing to risk endangering the entire world.

Meanwhile, Western corporate media, depending almost exclusively on Ukrainian sources, report that Russia is losing the war, with its military offensive “stalled,” and in frustration has deliberately targeted civilians and flattened cities.

Biden has bought into this part of the story, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal.” He has also said that Russia is planning a “false flag” chemical attack to pin on Ukraine.

But on Tuesday, the Pentagon took the bold step of leaking two stories to reporters that contradict those tales. “Russia’s conduct in the brutal war tells a different story than the widely accepted view that Vladimir Putin is intent on demolishing Ukraine and inflicting maximum civilian damage—and it reveals the Russian leader’s strategic balancing act,” reported Newsweek in an article entitled, “Putin’s Bombers Could Devastate Ukraine But He’s Holding Back. Here’s Why.”

The piece quotes an unnamed analyst at the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) saying, “The heart of Kyiv has barely been touched. And almost all of the long-range strikes have been aimed at military targets.”

A retired U.S. Air Force officer now working as an analyst for a Pentagon contractor, added: “We need to understand Russia’s actual conduct. If we merely convince ourselves that Russia is bombing indiscriminately, or [that] it is failing to inflict more harm because its personnel are not up to the task or because it is technically inept, then we are not seeing the real conflict.”
The article says:
“As of the past weekend, in 24 days of conflict, Russia has flown some 1,400 strike sorties and delivered almost 1,000 missiles (by contrast, the United States flew more sorties and delivered more weapons in the first day of the 2003 Iraq war).…


Our readers may remember Lauria from his time at the WSJ covering the U.N. 

Somehow he has written for the HuffPo and CommonDreams on one hand and the Telegraph and Daily Mail on the other. And many properties in between.

Next up, the Newsweek story from March 22:

Putin's Bombers Could Devastate Ukraine But He's Holding Back. Here's Why

And finally the second of the two leaks, from Reuters, March 22:

No indication of imminent Russian chemical weapons attack in Ukraine -U.S. defense official

It is a serious error to misunderstand what Russia is doing. While the talking heads, many of them retired military who should know better, were talking 72-hour Blitzkreig (possibly unaware that it took the Nazis 28 days to get from the German-Polish border to take Warsaw) the Russians have been very methodical in their objective, which is to destroy the Ukrainian military as a cohesive force.

Pincers and encirclement, cut off the supply lines and either leave them stranded as bits of an archipelago, similar to MacArthur's island-hopping campaign or.... The other approach the Russians are using after encirclement is to crush the entrapped soldiers. 

This is why we were looking at Mariupol in the first days of the Russian invasion, before the talking heads had even heard of the city:

....To the south-east of Zaporizhzhia the neo-Nazi shock troops of the Azov Brigade in Mariupol have been encircled. They are nasty guys, it could get ugly. Civilians as human shields and worse.

March 3
Ukraine: Mariupol Going Dark

In addition to being home to the eastern branch of the neo-Nazis it is the 10th largest city in Ukraine - meaning a lot of innocent Ukrainians mixed in with the Azov Battalion, setting up the worst kind of urban warfare. This could be the bloodiest fight of the entire war.

March 4  
This would be the time that the mayor and other city leaders would surrender the city to save the civilians but Mariupol is something of a citadel and the Azov goons and other militia, who have been blowing up Donbas for the last eight years, killing a couple thousand people per year, know the Russians will show them no mercy. So no surrender.

And all the poor mayor can do is plead for assistance from God knows who.

This is very bad....