The west’s myriad counter-productive foreign policies in recent decades are a puzzle. Some, like the current stoush over Ukraine, seem so determinedly stupid that satisfactory explanations are truly elusive.
Frank Furedi thinks he may have worked it out.
In a recent interview, a Russian journalist asked me why Western media outlets have become so careless about fact-checking in relation to Ukraine and Russia more broadly. I wasn’t sure if I could answer the question, so I was forced to say that I would have to reflect on it further.
After analysing the statements about Ukraine made by Western diplomats over the past two weeks, I have come to the uncomfortable conclusion that the motives behind the current campaign to demonise Russia are based on genuine convictions. Of course, there is a great deal of propaganda, wilful distortion and a significant element of fantasy in this campaign – but the outlook it expresses has been so firmly internalised by many in the West that it now constitutes their reality. And the fact that the West’s new breed of would-be Cold War crusaders have convinced themselves of their own rhetoric is likely to have far more destabilising consequences than if this campaign were simply a cynical example of old-fashioned realpolitik. At least realpolitik has the merit of being rooted in the real world; the current anti-Russian campaign, by contrast, is based on confusion and, even worse, on self-deception.