Who is winning the war in Ukraine depends on who is doing the talking.
Predictably, Russia says that it is winning as planned, while the United States says Ukraine is pulling a surprise win, thanks to its steadfast resistance and Western support.
On the face of it, authoritarian Russia cannot be trusted with the facts, let alone the truth about the war, while the liberal West inspires greater credibility as it allows for a free and independent inquiry. But in reality, as Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu said, “all warfare is based on deception”. Neither side could or should be trusted to reduce the fog of war, because both are fully engaged in psychological warfare, which is key to winning the overall war in Ukraine.
In fact, both sides are propagating their own selective facts and myths, while censoring counterclaims, as each needs to maintain an appearance of progress in order to justify big sacrifices in blood or treasure. And both sides need to up the ante in order to harden public resolve behind their goals, which thus far have excluded any serious effort towards a diplomatic solution.
Russia hopes to degrade the morale of the Ukrainian resistance and deflate European support for a war that cannot be won, while the US wants to shore up Ukrainian and European enthusiasm for a winnable war, even if privately, US officials doubt Ukraine could recover all its occupied territories.
While the Russian media has little or no choice but to parrot the official line, Western media has a choice but chooses to trust NATO and Pentagon briefs and reports, regardless of their intentions. Take for example the declaration of an anonymous (why anonymous?) senior Pentagon official that: “Russia has committed nearly 85 percent of its military to the war in Ukraine” and “has removed military coverage from other areas on their border and around the world”; Russia “still has not figured out how to use combined arms effectively”; Russia is “taking hundreds of casualties a day”. Among Russia’s military fatalities have been “thousands” of lieutenants and captains, “hundreds” of colonels, and “many” generals.
Now I have no clue if any of this or other such claims are true, and nor I suspect do the officials propagating it or the journalists spreading it. But it is out there, shaping the opinions of the public, the elites and the experts, most of who believe Ukraine is able to pull off some sort of an upset if not an outright victory against its largely more powerful neighbour. But the Western and especially Anglo-American media seems to suffer from short, or should I say selective memory when it takes the official line at face value, as if the official deception during yesterday’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq or Vietnam, has no bearing on covering today’s war in Ukraine.
In 2019, the Washington Post newspaper revealed that senior US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable. In other words, they lied. But media outlets, think-tanks and influential pundits continued to rely on these “officials”; even after it was revealed that they have also lied about another war – the Iraq war, which was also fought on false pretence and fabricated evidence.
Official deception was even worse during the Cold War. For example, the “Pentagon Papers” published about half a century ago revealed that the US government was guilty of an enormous cover-up regarding the terrible losses in the Vietnam war, which led to some 55,000 American and more than a million Vietnamese deaths. Any expectation that US media and the public’s trust in the government’s take on wars was “forever diminished”, turned out to be premature, as official lies about the “dirty wars” in Asia and Central America continued to be widely reported as facts.
Even today, as US Special Operation Command covertly deploys special forces across Africa to fight “shadow wars”, it blatantly preaches “free and transparent press”. One does not know whether to laugh or cry.
So it is no surprise that governments, whether autocracies or democracies, lie about wars for tactical or strategic reasons. In fact, there is a fancy name for it – stratagem, which means to deliberately send untrue signals to unsettle the enemy while reassuring one’s own side.
What is shocking is how the “free press” in the “free world”, which to its credit has helped reveal much of the official deception in the past as in the “Pentagon Papers” and the “Afghan Papers”, is adamant about echoing and amplifying the official line as if it were complicit in the war.
Watching journalists and pundits in respected American and British journals exhaust the synonyms of fascist, evil and dangerous to describe Russia’s Putin, with little or no attempt at balance or objectivity, one is inclined to believe that Western media has largely been enlisted in NATO’s crusade against Putin’s Russia until victory. But what does “victory” entail here: liberating all of Ukraine? Or weakening Russia to the extent it no longer threatens other European countries?
The difference cannot be overstated, because NATO’s ultimate objective is to defeat Russia and deter China from following in its footsteps, regardless of the price for Ukraine. That is why both sides seem adamant to continue the fight regardless of the cost. Russia hopes time will force a weakened Ukraine and a wobbly Europe to blink first and eventually back down. And the US is keen on Ukrainians fighting on regardless of whether a “victory” is achievable, as long as the war exhausts the Russian military and weakens its economy. It is betting that Putin’s Russia will crack in Ukraine just as the Soviet Union imploded after a decade-long war against the US-supported armed uprising in Afghanistan. But then again, Ukraine is no Afghanistan; not in any relevant way, and Russia does not view it as a disposable geopolitical asset.
So even if Ukraine has in fact managed a surprise upset against the invading Russian forces and forced Moscow into an unexpected war of attrition, it remains far from certain that it could maintain its counter-offensive for another six months, let alone another six years.
The ongoing battle for Kherson may provide a clearer signal about where things are heading. But as long as Western military support remains robust but defensive in nature so as not to risk a nuclear confrontation with Russia, expect the destructive war of attrition to continue in the medium run, or reach a tense stalemate at best, not any form of a decisive victory for either side.
Did someone say diplomacy…?!
10 Year Old Actor Sebastian Singh Makes His Toronto International Film Festival Debut in Clement Virgo Film “BROTHER”
Toronto, ON – Sebastian Singh will appear in his first feature film at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. (TIFF) The ten-year-old actor will play the younger version of the Lamar Johnson’s lead character Michael in Clement Virgo’s “Brother.” “Brother” makes its world premiere at TIFF in September. The film is the story of Francis and Michael, sons of Caribbean immigrants maturing into young men amidst Toronto’s pulsing 1990’s hip-hop scene and the mystery that unfolds setting off a series of events which changes the course of the brothers’ lives forever. Sebastian is excited and honoured to be a part of this film and to attend TIFF.
Sasha Stoltz Publicity:
Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804
Hardliners In Iran Slam Media At Home And Abroad For Criticism – ایران اینترنشنال
IRGC media accuse ‘reformist’ media in Iran of being in “unison” with their foreign-based peers, criticizing the government for forced hijab and nuclear policy.
In a commentary Tuesday, the IRGC-linked Fars news agency attacked reformist media for printing articles and commentaries that it said were “in unison with hostile media”.
Iranian officials and hardliners refer to Persian language media based outside Iran such as the BBC’s Persian channel, Iran International TV, Voice of America (VOA), and Manoto TV as ‘hostile media’.
Fars specified criticism of the government’s nuclear policies and crackdown on women for not abiding by hijab rules. Critics say that confronting, harassing and arresting women on the streets is similar to the way the Taliban in Afghanistan act. Fars said that the media’s coverage of this criticism shows their shared goals.
One of the newspapers attacked by Fars in its commentary was Etemad, which in a recent article headlined “Radical Principlists Fear [Nuclear] Agreement” said ultra-hardliners are pressuring the government to forego the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The commentary then cited an analysis by the website of Voice of America which argued that failing to reach an agreement with world powers to restore the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) within a few weeks would entail military and economic risks for Iran.
Loss of trust in the state media’s impartiality in reporting among many Iranians has led to the ever increasing popularity of foreign-based Persian language television channels at the expense of the state broadcaster (IRIB) despite its huge budget and massive organization employing more than 40,000 people.
A poll conducted by Gamaan polling agency in the Netherlands in 2021 found Iran International TV and Manoto TV, both based in London, as the most popular media outlets in Iran.
Iran has one of the world’s worst media and internet censorships, with tens of thousands of websites blocked since the early 2000s and most social media platforms banned. In the absence of free media and the very high level of censorship, many Iranians turn to social media for political news and information.
Some 60 percent of those contacted by Gamaan said they never watch the news on the Iranian state-run television, the agency said, adding that generalization of the results of the survey to the general public are valid by a 95% coefficient.
Those taking part in the survey were literate Iranians over 19 years of age, representative of 85 percent of the adult population in Iran.
According to the findings of the survey, 33% respondents in the poll said they watch the Iran International TV daily. This makes the network the most popular Persian speaking foreign based news channel in Iran.
Next on the popularity ladder were Manoto TV with 30%, BBC Persian TV with 17%, both London-Based, as well as Jam TV, based in Turkey, with 16.5%, followed by the Iranian state TV at 16 percent, the Washington-based VOA TV also known as PNN with 11 percent popularity.
The country’s only broadcasting organization which operates under the supervision of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office is now controlled by ultra conservatives. Khamenei also appoints the IRIB’s chief.
How To Build A Progressive Brand Using Modern Media (Part II) – Forbes
Whether you know what you’re talking about or not, if you’re a guest on TV, everyone will believe you know your stuff. (Psst … you’re less likely to get a guest appearance if you don’t know what you’re talking about!).
Part I of this blog series was all about using different platforms to build your personal brand. Part II here is about leveraging the brand you built online to appear before a larger audience.
Another way to think of this is that using social media (i.e., blogs, podcasts, YouTube, and Facebook/Instagram) serves as a foundation or springboard. That’s not to say that you can’t have an amazing, and lucrative, brand using any one of the platforms listed in Part I, because you can. But depending on what your goals are, you might also want to explore appearances on radio, television, or TEDx stages.
Let’s unpack how this could look for you…
1. TV appearances
Modern TV includes guest appearances on reputable YouTube channels, online networks, and TV talk shows, like Good Morning America and Live with Kelly & Ryan. But guest appearances don’t tend to start with something as large as Good Morning America.
How you use TV will depend a little bit on your brand and what you’re offering. TV is one way – and a good way – to introduce yourself to a lot of people. Plus, you can place the video recording of your segment on your website as a way to show credibility. This is the importance of an “as seen on” website page on your media coverage.
If you’re considering using media as a way to promote your brand, here are five tips to getting on TV.
- Start with local media. Local media builds credibility and shows that you don’t crack under pressure or spotlight. This would be almost necessary to get accepted into national media outlets.
- Be newsworthy. Stay true to your brand but find an angle that’s counterintuitive, something that makes someone stop in their tracks and rethink their approaches to life. If you have a successful business, you have an angle. There are reasons people hire (or listen to) you.
- Pitch like a pro. With TV and radio, it’s not about selling your brand. It’s about entertaining their audience.
- Be OK waiting. You’re not likely to land your first pitch. Remember: a lack of response isn’t always a “no”— it could simply be a “not right now.” Producers take note of their inbox, even if they are not responsive… Don’t give up. Hire a well-connected PR firm to help.
- Shine. When you get that call, give it everything you’ve got…in a calm and professional way, of course.
Competition for the spotlight is fierce. You need to stand out from the crowd here more than ever. Here are expert tips to be heard over the noise.
- Get media training. It’s a lot harder than it looks! You need to learn how to relax on camera to convey your key message. As a career coach, I’m constantly training clients to speak clearly and on message during all public interviews.
- Be compelling and entertaining. You don’t need to be funny, but you need to have a sense of humor.
- Prove you’re not a “nutjob.” No one wants to work for someone who’s overzealous. Be enthusiastic, just not too enthusiastic.
- Include only one “ah ha.” Your message needs to be summarized in one sentence. Think of it like this: When the host wraps up their time with you, what is the one thing you will want to make sure you say?
The value with radio is that it’s audio based. And, in traffic, you have a captivated audience. But an oft overlooked radio-like media is podcasts – not as a host, but as a guest. Podcasts have a huge audience: 32% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly, 75% want to learn something, and 52% of subscribers listen to the entire episode. That’s a captive audience.
To be successful using radio you need to find the right audience for your content. That means listening to different radio broadcasts to see where your message will be well-received. Radio needs to be newsworthy. It’s a great place to talk about your new book or breakthroughs in your industry. Like TV, starting local is the way to go.
On the flip side, if you want to be a podcast guest, your reach is much greater. Here are three tips to get the perfect podcast opp:
- Research. Identify and listen to several podcasts to determine a good fit for your message. Select about five podcasts that target your audience. Write down the details of each, e.g., who hosts the podcast and how to reach them. Listen to at least 2 to 3 episodes of each podcast so you get a feel for their audience.
- Pitch. After you’ve listened to several episodes, craft a pitch. Your podcast host wants to know how your appearance will benefit their audience and show… Give them bullet points that are specific, have points that are unexpected, show your value.
- Follow-up. Always follow up. Your first follow-up should be within 1-2 days, then 7, then 14 days. After that, keep listening. When you hear a podcast about a related topic or something that ties in nicely with your topic, send another follow-up: “Hey, just caught your episode on sleep apnea. As you might remember, I work with a technique to induce sound sleep – I’ve included more info below, but here are the bullet points….”
When you’re using radio or podcast guest appearances, your focus can be slightly different than TV. With TV, you want just one defining “ah ha.” With radio, and especially podcasts, listeners can relisten to episodes online. Often podcast hosts will include links to your personal website or social platforms (whatever is agreed on). So, you can leave the listeners with an “ah ha” moment that requires investigation or a call-to-action.
TED– which stands for technology, entertainment, design– has a mission to discover “ideas worth spreading.” It was originally a once-a-year conference held in Vancouver. TEDx are grassroot events held locally under the same premise: spreading great ideas. TEDx talks are shared for free online. More than 3000 TEDx events are held annually. There is an opportunity available to be invited to give a TEDx talk.
There are two TEDs – TED and TEDx. TED is an annual conference by invitation or nomination only. Other opportunities on TED include the Audacious Project, TED Fellow, and TED-Ed. TEDx are local events and offer your best chances at being heard. Here’s how:
- Study TEDx talks in your local region so you know what makes a great TEDx talk.
- Get to know the TEDx community and organizers.
- Build a portfolio of public speaking events with shareable links.
- Craft your talk – and your pitch – around energy, creativity, and bold ideas.
- Focus on just one idea or angle.
Just as with TV and radio, you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. So do your homework. Your idea doesn’t have to be earth shattering, but it needs to present a different way of looking at the problem. Just like TV, you need one big “ah ha.” But someone different from TV, you want your audience to learn, be inspired, and think. Brené Brown is an excellent example. She talks about vulnerability. Audiences that listen to her leave with as many questions as they do answers. They leave with an exploratory mind. That’s what will set you apart when competing for TEDx.
4. Have a shining LinkedIn profile.
You’ve done the work, emailed the pitches, and now you’re waiting to hear back. Know that in this lag of time, professionals and bookers will be looking at your LinkedIn profile. So make it shine! All professional brands need a LinkedIn page. Some, of course, more than others. LinkedIn is where you network and build relationships so when it comes time for the Big Ask, you have the connections to back you up. Before launching your pursuit to be the star of the show, make your LinkedIn profile pop.
Remember, your brand reflects your commitment to who you are as a professional. It’s not a step you can skip in today’s workplace, whether you’re an entrepreneur, or in corporate. It’s not “too late” to build your brand – if you take to the task in a strategic and committed way. It can be easy to get discouraged when your numbers (followers) are stagnant, or you’re being rejected for guest appearances. That’s when you must dig deeper. Find where you can pivot while staying true to who you are and what you stand for. if you have a “big point,” you’ll get noticed.
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