Guernsey Press

Truth, as they say, is always the first casualty of war

You would think that unhindered access to information vital to the public interest would be a given in an open democracy. Freedom of access to information is surely a sign of an open and free society, to which democratically-oriented people aspire. Well, that was what Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange thought.

Last updated

But we are advised that in the ‘real world,’ it is not so simple. When it comes to news, there are simply too many ‘facts’ to choose from. We are awash with all manner of information, of varying objective quality and significance. It follows that news and political commentary are by necessity, the products of selective editorial process.

But even when the media has the most noble intentions, it is logistically impossible for the public to learn everything about unfolding political situations and processes all at once. That particularly goes for wars and military conflict, where the opposing protagonists naturally have vested interests in controlling the flow and content of information conveyed to their respective publics. Who controls the news, controls the narrative.

The news that the Ukrainian, Russian and various western publics receive from the Ukrainian war zone is designed by their various ‘departments of information’ to suit the needs of their respective political elites. But we are incorrect if we assume that our ‘news’ is objective information and that what goes for news in other countries is simply propaganda. It’s more complicated than that. Truth, as they say, is always the first casualty of war.

Whatever or whichever, one can conclude that the mainstream media views and commentaries on the war, that are so widely different between these countries, are definite confirmation that the political elites choose not to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet.’

So, however each side rationalises, morally justifies and reports the current Ukraine conflict, peace won’t come until the Ukrainians and the Russians are on the same hymn sheet.

Which makes it all the more pity that American politicians see the war in Ukraine as a good investment. Or that back in April 2022 former British PM Boris Johnson, acting as an emissary for the United States, made a surprise visit to Ukraine to persuade President Zelensky to pull back from the tentative peace deal that the Ukrainians and Russians were then trying to broker with each other.

Mark Windsor