Security
Alastair Crooke
January 8, 2024
© Photo: Public domain

Defeat in Ukraine may be but one part to an accumulation of western ‘defeats’. Defeat in Israel would strike at the very core of U.S. political being.

❗️Join us on TelegramTwitter , and VK.

Contact us: info@strategic-culture.su

A strange ennui and distracted attention envelops the West today.

Hat-tip to Simplicius’ Bones of Tomorrow, in which he reflects on a Culture that has become debased; its lures that used to trap us into the ‘Myth of the West’ lie withered, as patently false idols. The dimming fire has squandered any sense of ‘magic’ in the guttering West, or indeed of hope to recoup this something ‘lost’. It is the wistful realisation that – as it stands – the myth is never likely to offer anything of lasting value again.

The figments of a utopian future once promised, nonetheless continue their seductive hold on our psyche, but only on attention-hopping, hypnotic touch-screens. Cultural touchstones crumble around us like rotting edifices one after another. Yet, we are too distracted to take real notice, or to absorb the significance. Counter ‘currents’ in the shadows gleefully applaud.

Where we stand now is where we’ve always stood – in the quicksands of time. A passing of the guard; one world fading, deep into the slow, declining burnout phase, the natural process of decay and renewal, whilst taking us forward towards some next, still-to-sprout, green shoots. A sense of something lost and never to be found again, which we all endure these days.

The ‘Elect’ though, have deliberately raised the stakes. They do not want to ‘let go’. They have determined that, with the western train wrecked on its own cultural ‘wall’, the ‘End of Time’ story of convergence on a common future is ‘over’ too.

And along with it, the claimed western mandate to dictate the ‘direction forward’ is over also.

Beneath the gimcrack and baubled veneer, the western meta-narrative “from Plato to NATO, that superior ideas and practices whose origins lie in ancient Greece, and have been transmitted down the ages so that those in the West today, are the lucky inheritors of a superior cultural DNA” has transpired to be nothing more than the faded tinselry of hollow narrative.

This is the deep fear of western political leaders – they know the ‘Narrative’ to be a fiction. Nonetheless, they go on telling it to themselves, despite knowing that our era has been made increasingly and dangerously contingent on this meta-myth. Absent the Myth, they sense, the western project, and western prosperity, could disintegrate utterly.

The ‘Elect’ hoped that the dredged-up, chimeric dreams of material prosperity and western savoir faire could still prop the Myth ‘aloft’, but only (and only if) the West possessed the better narrative. The right narrative was everything. It had to outmatch and outshine the ‘clunky narratives’ of adversaries. This deceptive covenant had to endure at all costs, lest the baubled veneer of the Myth come undone.

So the narrative ‘factory’ is put hard to work. The kinetic war in Ukraine is settled in an evident and overwhelming Russian victory – albeit without it yet being ‘over’. Of course not: Ukraine was but one single battlescape in the wider struggle to force the ‘Rimland’ (the Atlanticist world) to accept an agreed upon frontier between it and the ‘Heartland’ (Russia, China and their Asian depth), and gracefully to renounce its claim to exceptionality in determining our global future.

The MSM media therefore is abuzz with analysis of how to define a ‘western win’: Is it possible to ‘flip’ the narrative of Ukraine, they ponder, to being ‘another’ western win? They want to continue to feed Ukraine into the grinder – to persist in the fantasy of ‘total win’: “There is no other way than a total win – and to get rid of Putin … We have to take all risks for that. No compromise is possible, no compromise”.

Call the Ukraine conflict a ‘stalemate’, and insist that it represents a ‘defeat’ for Putin and a ‘win’ for Biden, since Russia was unable to seize the whole of Ukraine (falsely imputing this to have been Moscow’s objective, from the start). This approach is thought rather ‘cool’ by western analysts: Frame the narrative of a ‘win’ and ensure that from top-to-bottom of society, all adhere to the correct narrative without demur.

But this is little more than a simple projection from the YouTube ‘influencer’ culture, by which random individuals earn ‘street cred’, (and lots of cash), by curating slick narratives – whether about fashion, or political events. It may work insofar as the addled western public is concerned, but it has limited traction beyond western cultural tinselry.

The flaw when ‘flip-narratives’ are weaponised geo-politically, however, is that propaganda which is so divorced from a reality that is evident simply is not a winning narrative (except in the most fleeting of ways). Plainly said, it leads to the self-isolation of its authors.

The glee with which evident western ‘reverses’ seemingly can be narratively ‘flipped’ by Intelligence ‘leaks’ propagating rank lies to support a narrative has become a contagion amongst western intelligence services. Yet rather, this ‘deceptive covenant’ is a poisoned chalice.

If the West had any remaining sense, it would concentrate more on setting a ‘narrative of western defeat’ in Ukraine, rather than promulgating yet another rotting ‘narrative of victory’.

Why so?

Because a wise leadership would be preparing its people for defeat. Unlikely and false stories of glory on the battlefield come back to bite the perpetrators, as (metaphorically) the wounded and dead return to contradict visibly the tale of victory.

The West, by contrast, is still fed on stories of western leadership, election, innate qualities and exceptionalism. Put simply, this ‘influencer’ fad signally is failing to help westerners cope with the tectonic shifts occurring across the globe. Its peoples are wholly unprepared for the ‘Winter that is Coming’.

Yet, the purveyors of ‘winning’ hug themselves in sheer glee as their ‘flipped’ delusions are relayed through a compliant MSM.

Childish propaganda and lying however will only serve to make the new era all the more painful. A ‘narrative of defeat’, told with integrity, by contrast, is one that helps a people to understand how a particular crisis arose and came to afflict them. It should also signal a way forward. In Iran this was understood: ‘Ashura’ gave the key to understanding the pain and crisis Iranians had been enduring, and the Mahdi signalled a future that lay beyond immediate crisis.

The need for a return to an integrity of messaging is all the more pressing as attempts to repair one reversal, with a false narrative – inverting realities to achieve the putative ‘win’ – will only lead to further losses.

Deceit is exposed in the instant. Trust takes a decade to build. Does the West really believe it can recoup in this way? Nobody beyond their authors believes these western Intelligence narratives, post- Ukraine. They are now tainted for the long run. In the end, military facts are more powerful than political waffle.

There is another factor at play here too. EU spokesman on foreign affairs, Peter Stano, when asked this month by TASS about the Ukrainian missile strikes on the Russian city of Belgorod, resulting in over two dozen civilian casualties, said: “Regarding the specific incident in Belgorod, no information that comes from Russia can be considered trustworthy”, the spokesman added, accusing Moscow of “constant lies, manipulation and propaganda”.

Here lies the dark underside to ‘Win Narratives’ that become unyoked from the facts on the ground: The EU spokesman is compelled to affirm the mandatory narrative of Ukraine’s “right to defend itself … from aggression” – but then to nix anything and everything that Russia may say.

Put plainly, ‘win narratives’ kill empathy; they kill active listening and understanding. Diplomats are supposed to practice deep listening. If what they hear jars with what they expect, or want to hear, they are supposed to listen harder, and try to run-down what it is that lies out-of-sight, behind what they hear, so to understand what was intended, and to better understand their interlocutor. The West does not practice this now.

People often ask why is there so little empathy evident today? Why do states talk past each other? Why are channels of communication jammed? Well, that’s why: Flipped narratives based on easily exposed untruths.

Yet the western defeat in Ukraine may be but one part to an accumulation of western ‘defeats’. Defeat in Israel, for one, would strike at the very core of U.S. political being – too close to the quick to be lightly brushed aside. And there may be more hurts to come in the Middle East.

Just to be clear: the spinning of a fabric of delusion, unfaithful to the granular truth lurking beneath, ultimately hurts its authors. It leaves people disorientated, insecure, kicking at the loose gravel of the past, rummaging for some understanding of the crashing defeat, for which they are wholly unprepared.

The risk is then of a nation being swept off-course to ultimate catastrophe by the romance of ‘winning’ slogans such as ‘together we will win’ (heard all across Israel today): “Anyone who has studied German history and watched Goebbels’ career, sees what a dangerous instrument propaganda is – one that can lead to a [catastrophic] national loss of way.”

Something Lost, Never to Be Found Again

Defeat in Ukraine may be but one part to an accumulation of western ‘defeats’. Defeat in Israel would strike at the very core of U.S. political being.

❗️Join us on TelegramTwitter , and VK.

Contact us: info@strategic-culture.su

A strange ennui and distracted attention envelops the West today.

Hat-tip to Simplicius’ Bones of Tomorrow, in which he reflects on a Culture that has become debased; its lures that used to trap us into the ‘Myth of the West’ lie withered, as patently false idols. The dimming fire has squandered any sense of ‘magic’ in the guttering West, or indeed of hope to recoup this something ‘lost’. It is the wistful realisation that – as it stands – the myth is never likely to offer anything of lasting value again.

The figments of a utopian future once promised, nonetheless continue their seductive hold on our psyche, but only on attention-hopping, hypnotic touch-screens. Cultural touchstones crumble around us like rotting edifices one after another. Yet, we are too distracted to take real notice, or to absorb the significance. Counter ‘currents’ in the shadows gleefully applaud.

Where we stand now is where we’ve always stood – in the quicksands of time. A passing of the guard; one world fading, deep into the slow, declining burnout phase, the natural process of decay and renewal, whilst taking us forward towards some next, still-to-sprout, green shoots. A sense of something lost and never to be found again, which we all endure these days.

The ‘Elect’ though, have deliberately raised the stakes. They do not want to ‘let go’. They have determined that, with the western train wrecked on its own cultural ‘wall’, the ‘End of Time’ story of convergence on a common future is ‘over’ too.

And along with it, the claimed western mandate to dictate the ‘direction forward’ is over also.

Beneath the gimcrack and baubled veneer, the western meta-narrative “from Plato to NATO, that superior ideas and practices whose origins lie in ancient Greece, and have been transmitted down the ages so that those in the West today, are the lucky inheritors of a superior cultural DNA” has transpired to be nothing more than the faded tinselry of hollow narrative.

This is the deep fear of western political leaders – they know the ‘Narrative’ to be a fiction. Nonetheless, they go on telling it to themselves, despite knowing that our era has been made increasingly and dangerously contingent on this meta-myth. Absent the Myth, they sense, the western project, and western prosperity, could disintegrate utterly.

The ‘Elect’ hoped that the dredged-up, chimeric dreams of material prosperity and western savoir faire could still prop the Myth ‘aloft’, but only (and only if) the West possessed the better narrative. The right narrative was everything. It had to outmatch and outshine the ‘clunky narratives’ of adversaries. This deceptive covenant had to endure at all costs, lest the baubled veneer of the Myth come undone.

So the narrative ‘factory’ is put hard to work. The kinetic war in Ukraine is settled in an evident and overwhelming Russian victory – albeit without it yet being ‘over’. Of course not: Ukraine was but one single battlescape in the wider struggle to force the ‘Rimland’ (the Atlanticist world) to accept an agreed upon frontier between it and the ‘Heartland’ (Russia, China and their Asian depth), and gracefully to renounce its claim to exceptionality in determining our global future.

The MSM media therefore is abuzz with analysis of how to define a ‘western win’: Is it possible to ‘flip’ the narrative of Ukraine, they ponder, to being ‘another’ western win? They want to continue to feed Ukraine into the grinder – to persist in the fantasy of ‘total win’: “There is no other way than a total win – and to get rid of Putin … We have to take all risks for that. No compromise is possible, no compromise”.

Call the Ukraine conflict a ‘stalemate’, and insist that it represents a ‘defeat’ for Putin and a ‘win’ for Biden, since Russia was unable to seize the whole of Ukraine (falsely imputing this to have been Moscow’s objective, from the start). This approach is thought rather ‘cool’ by western analysts: Frame the narrative of a ‘win’ and ensure that from top-to-bottom of society, all adhere to the correct narrative without demur.

But this is little more than a simple projection from the YouTube ‘influencer’ culture, by which random individuals earn ‘street cred’, (and lots of cash), by curating slick narratives – whether about fashion, or political events. It may work insofar as the addled western public is concerned, but it has limited traction beyond western cultural tinselry.

The flaw when ‘flip-narratives’ are weaponised geo-politically, however, is that propaganda which is so divorced from a reality that is evident simply is not a winning narrative (except in the most fleeting of ways). Plainly said, it leads to the self-isolation of its authors.

The glee with which evident western ‘reverses’ seemingly can be narratively ‘flipped’ by Intelligence ‘leaks’ propagating rank lies to support a narrative has become a contagion amongst western intelligence services. Yet rather, this ‘deceptive covenant’ is a poisoned chalice.

If the West had any remaining sense, it would concentrate more on setting a ‘narrative of western defeat’ in Ukraine, rather than promulgating yet another rotting ‘narrative of victory’.

Why so?

Because a wise leadership would be preparing its people for defeat. Unlikely and false stories of glory on the battlefield come back to bite the perpetrators, as (metaphorically) the wounded and dead return to contradict visibly the tale of victory.

The West, by contrast, is still fed on stories of western leadership, election, innate qualities and exceptionalism. Put simply, this ‘influencer’ fad signally is failing to help westerners cope with the tectonic shifts occurring across the globe. Its peoples are wholly unprepared for the ‘Winter that is Coming’.

Yet, the purveyors of ‘winning’ hug themselves in sheer glee as their ‘flipped’ delusions are relayed through a compliant MSM.

Childish propaganda and lying however will only serve to make the new era all the more painful. A ‘narrative of defeat’, told with integrity, by contrast, is one that helps a people to understand how a particular crisis arose and came to afflict them. It should also signal a way forward. In Iran this was understood: ‘Ashura’ gave the key to understanding the pain and crisis Iranians had been enduring, and the Mahdi signalled a future that lay beyond immediate crisis.

The need for a return to an integrity of messaging is all the more pressing as attempts to repair one reversal, with a false narrative – inverting realities to achieve the putative ‘win’ – will only lead to further losses.

Deceit is exposed in the instant. Trust takes a decade to build. Does the West really believe it can recoup in this way? Nobody beyond their authors believes these western Intelligence narratives, post- Ukraine. They are now tainted for the long run. In the end, military facts are more powerful than political waffle.

There is another factor at play here too. EU spokesman on foreign affairs, Peter Stano, when asked this month by TASS about the Ukrainian missile strikes on the Russian city of Belgorod, resulting in over two dozen civilian casualties, said: “Regarding the specific incident in Belgorod, no information that comes from Russia can be considered trustworthy”, the spokesman added, accusing Moscow of “constant lies, manipulation and propaganda”.

Here lies the dark underside to ‘Win Narratives’ that become unyoked from the facts on the ground: The EU spokesman is compelled to affirm the mandatory narrative of Ukraine’s “right to defend itself … from aggression” – but then to nix anything and everything that Russia may say.

Put plainly, ‘win narratives’ kill empathy; they kill active listening and understanding. Diplomats are supposed to practice deep listening. If what they hear jars with what they expect, or want to hear, they are supposed to listen harder, and try to run-down what it is that lies out-of-sight, behind what they hear, so to understand what was intended, and to better understand their interlocutor. The West does not practice this now.

People often ask why is there so little empathy evident today? Why do states talk past each other? Why are channels of communication jammed? Well, that’s why: Flipped narratives based on easily exposed untruths.

Yet the western defeat in Ukraine may be but one part to an accumulation of western ‘defeats’. Defeat in Israel, for one, would strike at the very core of U.S. political being – too close to the quick to be lightly brushed aside. And there may be more hurts to come in the Middle East.

Just to be clear: the spinning of a fabric of delusion, unfaithful to the granular truth lurking beneath, ultimately hurts its authors. It leaves people disorientated, insecure, kicking at the loose gravel of the past, rummaging for some understanding of the crashing defeat, for which they are wholly unprepared.

The risk is then of a nation being swept off-course to ultimate catastrophe by the romance of ‘winning’ slogans such as ‘together we will win’ (heard all across Israel today): “Anyone who has studied German history and watched Goebbels’ career, sees what a dangerous instrument propaganda is – one that can lead to a [catastrophic] national loss of way.”

Defeat in Ukraine may be but one part to an accumulation of western ‘defeats’. Defeat in Israel would strike at the very core of U.S. political being.

❗️Join us on TelegramTwitter , and VK.

Contact us: info@strategic-culture.su

A strange ennui and distracted attention envelops the West today.

Hat-tip to Simplicius’ Bones of Tomorrow, in which he reflects on a Culture that has become debased; its lures that used to trap us into the ‘Myth of the West’ lie withered, as patently false idols. The dimming fire has squandered any sense of ‘magic’ in the guttering West, or indeed of hope to recoup this something ‘lost’. It is the wistful realisation that – as it stands – the myth is never likely to offer anything of lasting value again.

The figments of a utopian future once promised, nonetheless continue their seductive hold on our psyche, but only on attention-hopping, hypnotic touch-screens. Cultural touchstones crumble around us like rotting edifices one after another. Yet, we are too distracted to take real notice, or to absorb the significance. Counter ‘currents’ in the shadows gleefully applaud.

Where we stand now is where we’ve always stood – in the quicksands of time. A passing of the guard; one world fading, deep into the slow, declining burnout phase, the natural process of decay and renewal, whilst taking us forward towards some next, still-to-sprout, green shoots. A sense of something lost and never to be found again, which we all endure these days.

The ‘Elect’ though, have deliberately raised the stakes. They do not want to ‘let go’. They have determined that, with the western train wrecked on its own cultural ‘wall’, the ‘End of Time’ story of convergence on a common future is ‘over’ too.

And along with it, the claimed western mandate to dictate the ‘direction forward’ is over also.

Beneath the gimcrack and baubled veneer, the western meta-narrative “from Plato to NATO, that superior ideas and practices whose origins lie in ancient Greece, and have been transmitted down the ages so that those in the West today, are the lucky inheritors of a superior cultural DNA” has transpired to be nothing more than the faded tinselry of hollow narrative.

This is the deep fear of western political leaders – they know the ‘Narrative’ to be a fiction. Nonetheless, they go on telling it to themselves, despite knowing that our era has been made increasingly and dangerously contingent on this meta-myth. Absent the Myth, they sense, the western project, and western prosperity, could disintegrate utterly.

The ‘Elect’ hoped that the dredged-up, chimeric dreams of material prosperity and western savoir faire could still prop the Myth ‘aloft’, but only (and only if) the West possessed the better narrative. The right narrative was everything. It had to outmatch and outshine the ‘clunky narratives’ of adversaries. This deceptive covenant had to endure at all costs, lest the baubled veneer of the Myth come undone.

So the narrative ‘factory’ is put hard to work. The kinetic war in Ukraine is settled in an evident and overwhelming Russian victory – albeit without it yet being ‘over’. Of course not: Ukraine was but one single battlescape in the wider struggle to force the ‘Rimland’ (the Atlanticist world) to accept an agreed upon frontier between it and the ‘Heartland’ (Russia, China and their Asian depth), and gracefully to renounce its claim to exceptionality in determining our global future.

The MSM media therefore is abuzz with analysis of how to define a ‘western win’: Is it possible to ‘flip’ the narrative of Ukraine, they ponder, to being ‘another’ western win? They want to continue to feed Ukraine into the grinder – to persist in the fantasy of ‘total win’: “There is no other way than a total win – and to get rid of Putin … We have to take all risks for that. No compromise is possible, no compromise”.

Call the Ukraine conflict a ‘stalemate’, and insist that it represents a ‘defeat’ for Putin and a ‘win’ for Biden, since Russia was unable to seize the whole of Ukraine (falsely imputing this to have been Moscow’s objective, from the start). This approach is thought rather ‘cool’ by western analysts: Frame the narrative of a ‘win’ and ensure that from top-to-bottom of society, all adhere to the correct narrative without demur.

But this is little more than a simple projection from the YouTube ‘influencer’ culture, by which random individuals earn ‘street cred’, (and lots of cash), by curating slick narratives – whether about fashion, or political events. It may work insofar as the addled western public is concerned, but it has limited traction beyond western cultural tinselry.

The flaw when ‘flip-narratives’ are weaponised geo-politically, however, is that propaganda which is so divorced from a reality that is evident simply is not a winning narrative (except in the most fleeting of ways). Plainly said, it leads to the self-isolation of its authors.

The glee with which evident western ‘reverses’ seemingly can be narratively ‘flipped’ by Intelligence ‘leaks’ propagating rank lies to support a narrative has become a contagion amongst western intelligence services. Yet rather, this ‘deceptive covenant’ is a poisoned chalice.

If the West had any remaining sense, it would concentrate more on setting a ‘narrative of western defeat’ in Ukraine, rather than promulgating yet another rotting ‘narrative of victory’.

Why so?

Because a wise leadership would be preparing its people for defeat. Unlikely and false stories of glory on the battlefield come back to bite the perpetrators, as (metaphorically) the wounded and dead return to contradict visibly the tale of victory.

The West, by contrast, is still fed on stories of western leadership, election, innate qualities and exceptionalism. Put simply, this ‘influencer’ fad signally is failing to help westerners cope with the tectonic shifts occurring across the globe. Its peoples are wholly unprepared for the ‘Winter that is Coming’.

Yet, the purveyors of ‘winning’ hug themselves in sheer glee as their ‘flipped’ delusions are relayed through a compliant MSM.

Childish propaganda and lying however will only serve to make the new era all the more painful. A ‘narrative of defeat’, told with integrity, by contrast, is one that helps a people to understand how a particular crisis arose and came to afflict them. It should also signal a way forward. In Iran this was understood: ‘Ashura’ gave the key to understanding the pain and crisis Iranians had been enduring, and the Mahdi signalled a future that lay beyond immediate crisis.

The need for a return to an integrity of messaging is all the more pressing as attempts to repair one reversal, with a false narrative – inverting realities to achieve the putative ‘win’ – will only lead to further losses.

Deceit is exposed in the instant. Trust takes a decade to build. Does the West really believe it can recoup in this way? Nobody beyond their authors believes these western Intelligence narratives, post- Ukraine. They are now tainted for the long run. In the end, military facts are more powerful than political waffle.

There is another factor at play here too. EU spokesman on foreign affairs, Peter Stano, when asked this month by TASS about the Ukrainian missile strikes on the Russian city of Belgorod, resulting in over two dozen civilian casualties, said: “Regarding the specific incident in Belgorod, no information that comes from Russia can be considered trustworthy”, the spokesman added, accusing Moscow of “constant lies, manipulation and propaganda”.

Here lies the dark underside to ‘Win Narratives’ that become unyoked from the facts on the ground: The EU spokesman is compelled to affirm the mandatory narrative of Ukraine’s “right to defend itself … from aggression” – but then to nix anything and everything that Russia may say.

Put plainly, ‘win narratives’ kill empathy; they kill active listening and understanding. Diplomats are supposed to practice deep listening. If what they hear jars with what they expect, or want to hear, they are supposed to listen harder, and try to run-down what it is that lies out-of-sight, behind what they hear, so to understand what was intended, and to better understand their interlocutor. The West does not practice this now.

People often ask why is there so little empathy evident today? Why do states talk past each other? Why are channels of communication jammed? Well, that’s why: Flipped narratives based on easily exposed untruths.

Yet the western defeat in Ukraine may be but one part to an accumulation of western ‘defeats’. Defeat in Israel, for one, would strike at the very core of U.S. political being – too close to the quick to be lightly brushed aside. And there may be more hurts to come in the Middle East.

Just to be clear: the spinning of a fabric of delusion, unfaithful to the granular truth lurking beneath, ultimately hurts its authors. It leaves people disorientated, insecure, kicking at the loose gravel of the past, rummaging for some understanding of the crashing defeat, for which they are wholly unprepared.

The risk is then of a nation being swept off-course to ultimate catastrophe by the romance of ‘winning’ slogans such as ‘together we will win’ (heard all across Israel today): “Anyone who has studied German history and watched Goebbels’ career, sees what a dangerous instrument propaganda is – one that can lead to a [catastrophic] national loss of way.”

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

See also

March 1, 2024
February 28, 2024
February 27, 2024

See also

March 1, 2024
February 28, 2024
February 27, 2024
The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.