Signals, noise and mixed messages

This post is going to be about our modern news media ecosystem and the Ukraine war. First point I’d like to make is it’s very hard to discern the signals from the noise. The signals are the meaningful information, while the noise just makes it harder to detect the signals. Our partisan spin information war now fills the American news media space with so much noise that important signals often get drowned out or buried completely, regardless what news media format you’re consuming. Even print media often doesn’t provide the most basic information about images or events in their copy and lots of times the important details are buried way down in the story.

It’s become commonplace to see photos and videos circulate on the internet that don’t include any information about when and where it was shot, who took the photo or video, who the people are in the images and a clear explanation of what the image shows. Often images are selectively edited or altered, which leads to further confusion. Many people, without any hesitation, share images and videos they `they know nothing about and they buy into them completely.

Both Russia and Ukraine have waged massive propaganda efforts, since Russia invaded Ukraine. Unfortunately, so many American political leaders, former government officials, to include former intel and defense officials, and many, many “experts” on foreign policy from academia now live online. Our news media people live online too. They also leap to share information they have no idea where it came from or if it’s true. The human race wasn’t ready for social media, I think.

I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but again Twitter is the main online social media space where they congregate and unfortunately that’s where most of them get their “information.” The problem with this rapid tweeting and retweeting behavior is the signals usually get missed, while the tweet noise floods the zone. The rest of America, who isn’t following the Twitter politics crowd ends up with the “news” that’s spun out from the partisan spin battles on Twitter to other news media in America.

Most Americans aren’t on Twitter and even if they went on Twitter it’s doubtful they’d see what I’m talking about. I didn’t understand Twitter’s role in the American spin information war at first either, but then I decided to follow hundreds of politicians, journalists and news organizations to see what would show up in my feed. Then I spent a lot of hours watching the Twitter interactions and learning how the partisan talking points generated and that opened my eyes to how the corrupt Dem spin information war, that I’d been trying to understand since the 90s, was operating in the Twitter age.

Trump learned how to fight spin battles on Twitter too and there’s now a dedicated Trumpian right-wing spin effort too, plus some assorted other right-wing media spin efforts. I can go on Twitter and sit for about 15 minutes scrolling my feed filled with journos and politicians and see spin cycles form in real time. It happened by accident, not by design, because I was just wondering why the cable news had begun mentioning Twitter and tweets so much.

One important point about the American spin information war is we don’t live in a vacuum, so foreign operatives are involved in trying to influence the American news too and the Russians have always been aggressive about those efforts, going back through most of the last century.

Russia was struggling to counter the Ukrainian propaganda war and the one place in America where Russian propaganda gains traction these days, bizarrely is within the right-wing media space, where due to the binary-thinking, many Americans will be for or against something based on if the “other side” is for it, they are automatically against it. Dems and Hollywood rushed to wrap themselves in Ukrainian flags and worship Zelensky, so many on the right automatically took the opposing view.

Anyway, back to the signals and noise in regards to the Ukraine war, both Ukraine and Russia are running massive propaganda wars, so getting accurate information about the facts on the ground is difficult. Added onto this is Hollywood and Democrats rushed to aid Zelensky’s propaganda war and Zelensky reminds me of Donald Trump in some ways. He’s a former actor and knows how to stage himself effectively, just like Trump’s a master of owning the stage. Trump could upstage any world event. Zelensky has been packaged and sold by Democrats and the vast liberal media space as the infallible hero and too many Americans are invested in Ukraine without any serious thought to American national interests.

There are important reasons for America and Europe to thwart Putin’s naked aggression, but at the same time it’s important to carefully keep sight of American national interests in how we do that.

The worst thing Biden and many European leaders have done is talk big, then drag their feet on aiding Ukraine, while mewling to Putin, trying to coax him to keep the oil and gas flowing. They imposed punishing sanctions on Russia, to include on buying Russian oil. Then they continued to buy Russian oil. What kind of message did that send Putin? If you want to be taken seriously, you need to put your money where your mouth is. Biden and many of the European leaders have talked out of both sides of their mouth.

And worst of all, if you truly feel stopping Putin’s aggression is a grave threat to stability in Europe and that weakness at this critical juncture would embolden, not just Putin, but China too, then it makes no sense to try to embark on some cockamamie green-energy transformation. The Ukraine-Russia conflict has led to a full-blown economic war, but the US and Europeans weren’t as serious as Putin has been. If you were serious about stopping Putin, you’d be ramping up American fossil fuel production and the Europeans would be postponing their Great Reset to fight the Ukraine War, which they blabber on is the greatest threat since WWII. They would not be buying a drop of Russian oil, and they’d be working overtime trying to carefully assess what arms to send to Ukraine, while trying to speed up resupply of their own military stockpiles. Instead, they were just trying to kick the can down the road, hoping Putin would back down, so they could focus on their Great Reset and green-energy transformation. Their priority wasn’t stopping Putin – it was the Great Reset.

The Biden administration is most concerned about all its liberal pet projects – green-energy, racial politics, gender politics and most of all defeating and crushing Republicans. I haven’t seen any real seriousness in how the Biden administration has gone about helping Ukraine or really wanting to stop Putin’s aggression. Now that things have spiraled into a huge mess, Biden isn’t out there giving any calm. clear articulation of what the goals are, what’s at stake, or why the US should care about the war in Ukraine. Instead, he was rambling on at a Dem fundraiser about Armageddon and Putin – just like he tried to blame his own war on American fossil fuel as being Putin’s fault. He was concerned about defeating Republicans – not about convincing Putin to withdraw from Ukraine.

The Biden administration has offered no clear and consistent statements on Ukraine, that it followed with actions that bolstered those words. It was all big talk, then still buying Russian oil, while the Germans and French kept going on bended knee to the Russians, begging them not to turn off the Russian oil and gas spigots. The US/European effort to aid Ukraine has been a hodgepodge, convoluted mess with a lot of foot-dragging and lack of coordination between Western leaders and a lack of coordination with Ukrainian leaders. I believe the Obama foreign policy people are running this sideshow, because it has all the earmarks of their incompetent and clueless stumbling and bumbling, followed by overreactions that were the Obama foreign adventures.

I have no idea how things will turn out, but I feel certain that if the US and West cave on Ukraine, China will be on the move very quickly. A lot of Americans, especially on the right, have become isolationist after all the military adventurism in the past two decades and they don’t want to hear about sending US troops anywhere. I understand that, but the reality is Reagan was right: “We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”

America is still a force for good. If we decide to pick up our toys and go home, saying it’s not our problem or we don’t want to be the world’s policeman, that won’t keep us safe. Russia, China and other malignant actors in the world would quickly move to fill the void left by a US retreat from the world.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, General Interest, Politics, Ukraine

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