The Financial Express

Propaganda, war and today's indifference

File photo used for representational image File photo used for representational image

Most people refuse to believe humans are now living in the most peaceful era in the history of our species, argues Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker. Author of a 2011 book, "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined", he thinks modern media does not help, by means of non-stop coverage of war, crime, and terrorism. Thus, he elucidates, our cognitive faculties predispose us to believe we live in violent times. 

Since February 24, 2022, the headlines of the powerful global media outlets, especially the Western news portals, have been fixed on one issue - the Russia-Ukraine war. As if there is no other serious or heartening issue that arises in the meantime. A few pro-Russian entities are out to present narratives countering those of the backers of Ukraine. 

A third opinion - different from the versions of the US-led West and Russia and its sympathisers - points to the double standards of highlighting the Ukraine war on the basis of the Ukrainians' European characteristics. A number of wars and civil wars in the past decades and occupation of foreign territories have not been covered with the same spirit. 

However, the media coverage itself, in major part of the world, indicates that the audiences are losing curiosity about what happens in Ukraine today despite horrifying reports of killing. This is how the global masses might have expressed their disapproval of hostilities and preference to peace as required for stable and comfortable living. After the World War II, particularly the detonation of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the conscientious opinion leaders expected a more peaceful world, which was then polluted by the Cold War. Bertrand Russell expressed concern when the world was close to a nuclear war between the US and former USSR during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. 

Now suffering mostly economically though living in places far away from the war scene, various nations have been more confused about why Russia's Vladimir Putin has actually launched a 'costly' special military operation and how the Ukrainians have survived till date the assault by a superpower! 

Other questions that may come to public mind include: 'Who is the actual winner in an apparently pronged war?', 'How will Russia overcome sanctions?', 'What have America, Europe and China separately gained from the war?' and 'When will we know the secret strategies of the belligerents used in the Ukraine war?' 

There are obvious gaps in information about the situation, rationales offered by the parties concerned and their diplomatic, ideological and economic motives. The war propaganda has failed to decode Mr. Putin's hypersonic strategies. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, a Jew himself, has rather disclosed his wish to make his country in the post-war era a 'big Israel', a Zionist state which occupied Palestinian and other nations' lands. 

While Russia's invasion of Ukraine could have been widely condemned on social media as a naked attack on an independent, sovereign country, the Western assertion of why Ukraine (not countries in similar situation) must win and Russia should be defeated at any cost gives a different impression and alienates the third world nations from the dominant arguments on both sides. 

The attempts by the two camps - the US and its allies and Russia and its friends - to find other countries by their sides, suggest their quest for establishing hegemony, exposing fresh enmity that may shape the global order in the coming days. Hatred provokes man faster than does love soothe one's heart but global citizens in the age of connectivity couldn't connect themselves to the causes, if not effects, of the latest war. 

Dhaka's unwillingness to strongly support or oppose any of the powers in the Ukraine conflict is understandable in the current global context and in view of Bangladesh's foreign policy obligations. Most countries have found them as not any party to the conflict as, after all, they may have their national interests at stake. The Westerners, too, have not directly engaged themselves in the war, although they are in constant arguments and providing moral and material supports to Ukraine. 

So, the war is replete with controversies and disinformation released by whoever willing to spread their purported narratives. Casualty in this process is truth, only which can satisfy the innocent, investigative minds. 

A war involves certain amount of falsehood by either of the parties or all is never a righteous move for the civilisation. The world is disillusioned of war propaganda as well whenever it is unravelled, but individuals, communities and leaders need to appreciate the value of peace for its durability. 

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