Ex-footballer Matt Le Tissier, now aged 53, resigned from his role as ambassador for his old club Southampton for retweeting a sceptical post about the events in Bucha. Apparently, the post noted the media lies about Saddam’s WMDs, Covid, and Hunter’s laptop, and queried whether the truth was being told about Bucha. Twitter outrage followed; the UK Telegraph reports, and the post was deleted.
In other words, nothing really happened out of the ordinary. These days, this is a dog bites man story. It does however reinforce the message: Don’t post anything on social media against the prevailing zeitgeist if you don’t want to get cancelled. Lucky for me I have nothing much which can be taken, which I’m desperate to keep.
Mind you, I’m human. That great weakness. So, at the start, let me make it clear that I’m on Ukraine’s side. Not to the same degree as I would be on Australia’s side or Britain’s side or America’s side or Israel’s side if attacked. But attacking a country and killing its people is an awful thing, whatever the supposed provocation – Ukraine cosying up to NATO etc.
However, being able to chew gum and walk at the same time, I still think facts matter. And this is particularly the case to avoid false pretexts for widening war. I saw Andrew Bolt interviewing retired American four-star general Jack Keane on Monday evening. They gave the distinct gung-ho impression of favouring NATO military intervention because of the reported atrocities in Bucha. This is the way wars gets going.
This is from the editorial in this morning’s Australian: “Atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Bucha…where more than 400 civilians were tortured and killed, provide evidence of what [Zelensky] argues is genocide…”
Every civilian killed is one too many. But even if the account, presented as though it’s fact in the editorial, is true; it simply doesn’t nearly rise to the level of genocide. Moreover, do we know whether some of the civilians killed were caught in crossfire? Do we know whether the “civilians” killed were all non-combatants? Perhaps some of them were armed and shooting. Simply wearing civilian clothes doesn’t make you a civilian, and soldiers don’t take kindly to those posing as civilians shooting at them. It’s “perfidy” in war and “execution” can ensue. And what about this charge of torture?
The editorial can be read as suggesting that all of the more-than-400 civilians killed were tortured. This might be just imprecise writing. Common these days among journalists. But the seriousness of the charge demands precision. How many were tortured and in what way? I’m not talking about grisly details. I’m talking about a reasonable level of information.
The fog of war complicates finding the truth. An independent inquiry should certainly be conducted in Bucha to try to discover the truth. In the meantime, it might be best if the media were to rein in war mongering. A diplomatic solution looks to be the only tenable long-lasting solution.
Painting Putin as a war criminal who cannot be allowed a win of any size of any kind, whatever the cost, might not be the optimal strategy. Just suppose the Ukrainians with western weapons were to push Russia back to its borders. What then? Cornering a nation of 146 million people, vast land area, vast resources, with nuclear weapons and allies in China and India, in perpetuity. Is that the end game? Really?