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From ‘denazification’ to where? April 14, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Fred Kaplan had an interesting point to make on Slate.com this last week in the wake of the revelations of Bucha where there appeared to be strong evidence of serious crimes against civilians by departing Russian troops. He notes that:

Most of the civilian deaths we’d seen so far in this war—the results of Russian bombs, missiles, and artillery shells—have had an air of abstraction. Those who dropped or fired those weapons were too far away to see the consequences. They and their victims can regard one another as faceless cogs in a war machine.

But the murders in Bucha require a monstrousness, even if the number of their murders are much lower than those inflicted from out of sight.

Are these war crimes? Certainly. Acts of genocide? Possibly. However they’re described, they will prolong this war, intensify passions on both sides, and make a negotiated peace—already increasingly unlikely—much more difficult still.

He further notes that:

Those who committed these deeds, up close, must have regarded their prey as something less than human. The survivors of these crimes must view the perpetrator as inhuman as well—though with greater justification. It is hard for combatants or politicians from the two sides, animated with such venom, to sit together in the same room and make peace or discuss compromises.

Dehumanization is a time-tested psychological tactic in warfare; it makes it easier for humans to kill each other, and, whether intentionally or not, it encourages atrocities. In some wars, racism or sectarianism has injected the requisite stream of virulent hatred by turning the enemy into “the other.” But in the Russia-Ukraine war, the people on both sides are of the same Slavic background. Vladimir Putin—like many other Russians, by the way—doesn’t even regard Ukraine as a real country, but rather as a part of Russia.

This may be why, to whip up popular support for his colonial adventure, Putin has concocted the notion that the government in Kyiv is a “Nazi” regime—invoking the most bone-chilling enemy in Russian history.

And here is where we see the vile rhetoric of ‘denazification’ brought to its logical conclusion.

These people, perhaps simply by dint of not acquiescing with Russian commands, were therefore in this abysmal calculus Nazis or Nazi sympathisers. That this is both risible and an abomination given a state whose head, a popularly elected President, is Jewish, and which has had a Jewish Prime Minister until a few short years ago (and another Jewish vice and acting Prime Minister between 1993 and 1994), tells us much about those who would make such claims. But this is the inexorable outcome of that narrative.

Kaplan doesn’t shy away from other examples of dehumanisation closer to his home:

Finally, I assume that intelligence agencies are trying to figure out whether the atrocities in Bucha are part of some genocidal policy in the Kremlin—or simply the sort of crime that sometimes happens in a brutal war when soldiers, many of them conscripts, lack competent leaders, find themselves surrounded on all sides, are forced to beat a retreat, and lash out at anyone and everyone who might be considered the enemy.

Not to minimize these recent horrors or to excuse anyone who commits these most dreadful of crimes, but wars have brought out even more appalling horrors in the past, including among American soldiers. (See, for instance, My Lai, where the men of Charlie Company killed more than 500 Vietnamese civilians, up close, in one day, just because they were Vietnamese.)

Whatever the reasons (to the extent that any rationale for murdering civilians can be considered a ‘reason’), the reality that rhetoric has effects cannot be overstated. Those who use or reproduce such rhetoric so glibly and so clearly indifferent to the historical or contemporary record demonstrate a complete political and moral irresponsibility — that or an absolute credulity.


1. Jim Monaghan - April 15, 2022

France 24 is very good on Fake News. On eexample herhttps://www.france24.com/en/tv-shows/truth-or-fake/20220405-debunking-russian-claims-attack-mariupol-maternity-hospital-staged
The Journal is excellent as well. https://www.thejournal.ie/fake-5721095-Mar2022/
The OSCE are investigantin. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/04/13/osce-investigation-russia-ukraine-human-rights/

Liked by 2 people

2. Jim Monaghan - April 15, 2022
3. tomasoflatharta - April 15, 2022
4. Russian Ethnic Cleansing in Action at Bucha : “Those who committed these deeds, up close, must have regarded their prey as something less than human.” | Tomás Ó Flatharta - April 15, 2022
5. tomasoflatharta - April 15, 2022
6. tomasoflatharta - April 16, 2022
7. tomasoflatharta - April 17, 2022

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