Trapping Russia to Prove a Negative
By Finian Cunningham
The prove-a-negative trap is the Big Lie technique
of Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels: there is no substance to the
allegations and there is no obligation to present evidence to verify,
thanks to the dutiful and unquestioning nature of Western corporate
June 11, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - "Sputnik"
- The United States and its Western allies are
trying to ensnare Russia in an audacious disinformation trap over the Ukraine
conflict. That trap involves imposing an insoluble conundrum on Vladimir Putin's
government, which we might call "prove a negative". It is a familiar conceptual
device that Washington has used elsewhere, against Iraq and Iran for example, in
order to pursue what are otherwise illegitimate geopolitical aims.
Russia is being held up as the guilty party that is undermining the shaky Minsk
ceasefire; and Western economic sanctions are being extended "until Russia
implements the ceasefire".
Wrapping up the Group of Seven summit in Germany this week, US President Barack
Obama said that "more costs" would be piled on Russia over its "aggression in
Ukraine". If Putin "wants to wreck his economy that's up to him," Obama said in
Obama's assertions were echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that
Russia faces another six months of Western-imposed economic and diplomatic
penalties. European Union leaders will meet later this month to take a final
decision on extending those sanctions.
But how can Russia implement a peace deal in Ukraine if the Western-backed Kiev
regime is the one that is the aggressor, not Russia? As Putin told Italian media
in an interview last week, it is up to Washington and its European allies to
influence the regime in Kiev to fulfil the terms of Minsk.
Speaking to Corriere della Sera newspaper, Putin pointed out: "The problem is
that the current Kiev authorities don't even want to sit down to talks with them
[the east Ukrainian separatists]. And there is nothing we can do about it. Only
our European and American partners can influence this situation. There is no
need to threaten us with sanctions. We have nothing to do with this, this is not
We seek to ensure the implementation of the Minsk Agreements."
Integral to Western assertions about the implementation of the Minsk ceasefire —
a truce that was in large part brokered by Putin back in February — are claims
that Russia has invaded east Ukraine with troops, tanks and anti-aircraft
missiles. The Kiev regime's defence minister Stepan Poltorak has in the past
week claimed that "40,000 Russian troops and pro-Russian militia" are now in
east Ukraine — a massive inflation of numbers from earlier Kiev and NATO claims.
Further, it is said, Russia is covertly threatening other European states with
dastardly designs of expansionism.
There is no evidence to substantiate the claims of Russian troops inside
Ukraine, even though these accusations have been flying around the Western media
for more than a year now. Surely, a US or NATO satellite must have a credible
image of such Russian presence by now?
Besides, Moscow has consistently denied any such involvement of its armed forces
As for the alleged Russian aggression toward the rest of Europe, as Putin also
noted in the above interview: "US military spending is higher than that of all
countries in the world taken together. The aggregate military spending of NATO
countries is 10 times, note — 10 times higher than that of the Russian
Federation. Russia has virtually no bases abroad… we are not expanding anywhere;
it is NATO infrastructure, including military infrastructure, that is moving
towards our borders. Is this a manifestation of our aggression?"
The prove-a-negative trap works like this: allegations are simply levelled, then
amplified and repeated ad nauseam by Western mass media and an array of
"experts" and pundits. It's the Big Lie technique of Nazi propagandist Josef
Goebbels. There is no substance to the allegations and there is no obligation to
present evidence to verify, thanks to the dutiful and unquestioning nature of
Western corporate "journalism".
If Western mass media actually were to bother sending news crews to east Ukraine
they would find that the reality there is the opposite of what Western
governments are claiming. It is the Western-backed Kiev regime that is
bombarding Donetsk City and surrounding towns and villages, killing civilians,
women and children, and violating the terms of the Minsk ceasefire, as well as
violating international law.
Reports from the monitoring teams of the Organisation of Security and
Cooperation in Europe — conveniently ignored by the Western media — confirm
these routine, horrific breaches of Minsk.
It is also American and NATO troops, not Russian, who are actually in Ukraine,
supposedly on "training missions". The financial and military support from
Washington and Brussels for the Kiev regime makes Western governments complicit
in the aggression and crimes against humanity.
Yet in the face of this appalling reality, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and other
Western leaders have the gall to lecture Russia about implementing a ceasefire
that they themselves are trashing via the illegal Neo-Nazi junta that they
installed in Kiev back in February 2014. This is while these Western governments
say that it is they who support Minsk.
Moreover, sanctions are imposed on Russia by the West in an aggressive attempt
to wreck the country's economy because Russia cannot disprove something that
does not exist — that is, Russian aggression and subversion in Ukraine, or
The proving-a-negative conundrum has been used elsewhere by Washington. Recall
how Saddam Hussein's Iraq was compelled to "demonstrate" that it did not possess
weapons of mass destruction.
Saddam couldn't comply with that ultimatum because Iraq did not have any WMDs.
But his "failure" was construed as "evidence" that the Iraqi leader was
concealing WMDs. Then in March 2003 the US under President GW Bush launched a
genocidal war of occupation on the country, during which over a million Iraqis
died, and whose horrific legacy of violence and extremism still persists to this
day in that country and the wider region.
We see the exact same ruse played against Iran. Tehran is accused by Washington
and its Western allies of secretly planning to build a nuclear bomb. No evidence
is produced despite countless IAEA inspections, and indeed Western intelligence
agencies have quietly admitted there is no evidence of any such nuclear
ambitions. But still the accusations and insinuations continue against Iran,
which then "justify" the imposition of crippling economic sanctions and
interminable political wrangling that denies Iranian national rights.
All because Iran can't prove a negative, that it is not building a nuclear bomb
now, or sometime in the future.
Russia is finding itself contending with the same irrational Western mindset. It
is a mindset that is deliberate and cynical. Of course, it is the West that is
being deceitful and outrageously obtuse. And it gets away with this impossible
irrationality largely because the Western media serve to give it credibility.
However, one positive development in recent years is that there is no longer a
Western monopoly on information and "news". The West's propaganda power is
steadily diminishing with the ineluctable rise of alternative, credible sources
Today, the emergence of global communications is helping to turn the tables on
those who practice the cynical trap of prove-a-negative. And Washington and its
European minions are liable to end up trapping themselves with their own
abundant lies and criminality. That applies to Ukraine and much else.
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