The Ukraine War is a blow to Trumpism

After an era shaped by the cultivation of the lie, truth has moved to the offensive.

 A BOY walks past graves of civilians who, according to local residents in Bucha, were killed by Russian soldiers. The inscription on the cross in the middle reads: 'Unknown'. (photo credit: REUTERS/VLADYSLAV MUSIIENKO)
A BOY walks past graves of civilians who, according to local residents in Bucha, were killed by Russian soldiers. The inscription on the cross in the middle reads: 'Unknown'.
(photo credit: REUTERS/VLADYSLAV MUSIIENKO)

It was the most spectacular pincer movement in the history of warfare. 

What began in the east, with the Kremlin’s deployment of fake bloggers, talk-backers, social-media personas and entire Web sites that attacked the free world with manufactured “facts,” was soon joined from the west by the very leader of the free world. 

As discussed here on the eve of Donald Trump’s downfall (“The Second War on Truth,” October 22, 2020), the man who habitually tweeted lies, challenged science, denied the existence of the plague that undid his presidency, and defamed all journalists as “some of the most dishonest human beings on earth” – was part of the epochal War on Truth. 

While using different tactics – one worked stealthily and through proxies, the other directly, visibly and loudly – the war’s Russian and American commanders helped shape an era in which lying, helped by new technologies, became as common, unabashed, and industrialized as it had never been since Adam tried to lie to God. 

The lie’s offensive split its strategic aims between its pincer movement’s two arms: Moscow defined its targets – Western institutions and ideals – while the man in Washington offered the legitimacy, pride, and esprit de corps that the War on Truth sorely begged. 

 FORMER US PRESIDENT Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando on Saturday. (credit: MARCO BELLO/REUTERS) FORMER US PRESIDENT Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando on Saturday. (credit: MARCO BELLO/REUTERS)

As the offensive’s successes piled – most fatefully when Trump’s lies helped fan a plague and kindle an attempted coup – truth’s counterattack was widely expected to be waged from the Congressional marble floors that his followers defiled. 

The lawmakers, went the conventional wisdom, will break up the corporations that shoulder the misinformation highway, and then impose on the redesigned industry anti-trust regulations of the sort that once humbled America’s railroad, energy and telecoms cartels. 

The prediction proved off mark. Truth’s counterattack unfolded not on the government’s marble floors, but on Ukraine’s muddied blood fields. 

AT THIS writing, a multitude of journalists, academics and spooks are surveying charred bodies, pierced skulls and torn limbs across the town of Bucha, hoping to reconstruct what happened there before the Russian army’s retreat, and to decide whether it was a premeditated massacre. 

Truth’s enemies are also there, ready to ignore, twist, and invent facts in line with their overarching assumption that they can, and had better, lie to all the people all the time. 

This writer has no pretension to judge from Jerusalem what exactly happened in distant Bucha. In terms of the War on Truth, that is not what matters, because the War on Truth is not about any single battle or atrocity’s account. Misinformation and disinformation concerning this or that single battle have been a part of countless wars. 

The War on Truth is about the big picture, about governmental lies about major governmental ploys which are spread by hordes of liars for hire who could not be deployed before the emergence of the Internet, the smartphone, and the social network. 

The continuous deployment of cybernetic lie machines gave their masters the illusion that they could not only twist reality, they could also drown its reportage, and thus rob the truth, and fully own it. 

That is how the lie manufacturers who concocted this war did not tell their soldiers where they were sending them and why; that is how they shuttered what was left of their country’s critical media, and that is how they thought they would force people not to refer to their war as war. 

It was at that point that truth shifted from defense to offense. 

THE FIRST to learn the truth were the soldiers in the armored vehicles that Ukraine’s fighters lampooned.

On the battlefield, it took no volume button to hear, and no scholarship to understand, truth’s message to all its abusers. “This is war!” she screamed in the ears of the crewman who saw the Javelin missile throw the nearby tank’s turret in the air, wrapped in the fireball that roasted his comrades-in-arms. 

Yes, the lie machine’s reaction to truth’s counterattack was to lie even more, first of all to itself. That is why, for instance, Russia’s leaders thought they would force European governments to pay in rubles for Russian gas. 

The demand was part of the previous era, when Russia’s leaders lied to themselves that they had a modern economy, even though they never labored to build one. But alas, truth was by now on the offensive, so when Russia’s clients effectively said “we won’t use your paper money,” Russia’s leaders sheepishly said they will “not immediately demand payments in rubles.” Truth overpowered them. 

Yes, truth has power. Soon, not just Russian soldiers, but the entire Russian people, will understand that they were taken for a ride, that their military’s “special operation” is a gruesome war of choice, that “the enemy” includes an innocent neighbor’s women, children and babies, and that the war’s cause is not “denazification,” but the imperial vanity of moral dwarfs. 

HISTORIANS, ARCHAEOLOGISTS, judges, journalists and anyone else whose job is to expose the truth will tell you that truth, even when under no attack, can be elusive; that physical location, time distance, cultural perspective and social position can radically change its interpretation. 

If this is the case when truth is not challenged, it is doubly so when it is actively distorted by a sophisticated lie machine. Truth’s victory is therefore not foretold, and no one knows better than us Jews just how convincing, devastating and durable a lie can be. 

That is why the counterattack we are now witnessing is not the beginning of the end, and not even the end of the beginning of the War on Truth. It is, however, a reminder that the war is winnable, because unlike justice, which “looks down from heaven,” truth “springs up from the earth” (Psalms 85:12).

www.MiddleIsrael.net

The writer’s bestselling Mitzad Ha’ivelet Ha’yehudi (The Jewish March of Folly, Yediot Sefarim, 2019), is a revisionist history of the Jewish people’s leadership from antiquity to modernity.