The overused cliché about the truth being the first casualty of war is an overused cliché because it is so obviously true. Wars are the result of rulers on both sides seeing advantage in the suffering of their people. That means producing a story to explain to the people why they must sacrifice for the ruler. The war in the Ukraine is no exception, but it may be the first war to be turbocharged by the narrative industrial complex through the internet.
For several months, the usual suspects have been promoting a narrative framework with regards to a Ukrainian counter-offensive. Tens of billions of Western arms have been shipped to Ukraine, along with plane loads of cash. This has been done to great political fanfare in every Western capital. Slowly, the story evolved into the great spring offensive in which a newly formed Ukrainian army using Western super-weapons would smash through the Russian lines and send them fleeing.
The explanation for how this would work or why it should be attempted was never provided, but a good story is worth skipping over the details. Russia has about half a million men in Ukraine at the moment. They have air superiority, and they have a growing advantage in firepower. How a seventy-thousand-man attack force could smash through their lines was left to the imagination. That is where people like Edward Luttwak filled the void with serious sounding plans for the attack.
In the age of narrative, facts about firepower and troop strength are no match for a really good story. The story was so good, in fact, that last week the internet was full of rumors that the Ukrainians had launched a counterattack in Bakhmut, sending the Russians fleeing. The prophesies were true! It turned out that it was nothing more than a faint to try and evacuate Azov fighters trapped by Wagner forces, who continue to grind down the remaining forces in the city.
Eventually reality does prevail, and we may be entering a phase of the war in which reality slowly overcomes the current narratives. We are a month from summer and there is no sign of a counter-offensive. Zelensky has been on a tour of European capitals, demanding more weapons and money. He says they lack the weapons to conduct an offensive and his advisors are echoing his claims. Even Washington is starting to back off the spring counter-offensive narrative.
The reason for this is those facts on the ground. For close to a year the Russians have been launching drone and missile attacks on the Ukrainian energy grid. It was assumed that they were trying to turn off the lights, but in reality, they were exhausting the Ukrainian air defense system. They determined that Ukraine had a finite number of surface-to-air-missiles. The West had no replacements, so once that stock was exhausted, the air defense system would collapse.
This is where things are now. The Russians are now using their air force to attack high value targets in Ukraine. The Russian hit a large warehouse facility where Ukraine was stockpiling weapons. The resulting mushroom cloud revealed that it was a massive facility, perhaps holding depleted uranium shells supplied by Britain. The increase in gamma radiation seems to confirm it. Some reports claim half a billion dollars in weapons were destroyed in that one strike.
A few days ago, there was another missile strike on Kiev aimed at a high value target, this time a Patriot missile system. The West has supplied two of these to defend Zelensky from a decapitation strike. A Russian missile struck in or around the system, after it expended all of its missiles to defend itself. Even CNN had to concede that the video of the strike was real. Reliable reports say one launcher was destroyed, one launcher was severely damaged, and one launcher survived.
What we are seeing over the last month is both an increase in the use of the Russian air force over Ukraine and their greater success. The Russian are now hitting high value targets with increasing regularity. One theory for why there has been no Ukrainian offensive is the Russians keep blowing up their equipment. Some of the shiny new Western equipment has been turning up in Bakhmut, suggesting Ukraine has had no choice but to repurpose this material.
There is something else lurking over all of this. The West is out of ammo. All of the old Soviet era stockpiles have been depleted. The stockpiles of Western weapons have been run down as well. The thirty Patriot missiles Ukraine fired off the other night cost five million a copy. The waiting list for new ones is over a year. Just as Russia is getting better at destroying Ukrainian weapons, the supply is running low. It is not hard to see what will happen in the not-so-distant future.
Since the war started, there was a gap between what the narrative industrial complex was emitting and what was happening in reality. That gap was concealed by media perfidy and the glacial pace of the war of attrition. Those slow changes in the battlefield were easily obscured by the tsunami of storytelling in the media. We are now entering a phase where that gap cannot be concealed. We can see what is happening on the ground does not match the current narratives.
The expression “narrative collapse” is most often used with regards to a political scandal or a scandal with famous people. The story offered to explain things is slowly undermined by reality. At some point, even the creators of the narrative have to admit it is not reality. The release of the Durham report is a case in point. The Trump haters like Jonah Goldberg have had to finally admit they were lying. Their Russia collusion narrative had finally collapsed.
We are about to see something similar with the Ukraine war. We are now entering the narrative collapse phase. The sharps are already heading for the exits, while stupid people like David French wait for the signal. It will not happen overnight, but the process has begun and by the end of the year, the brooms will be out in the media, assigned to sweeping the whole thing under the rug. Like prior failed narratives, this one will be deposited in the memory hole.
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