Some brief points of propaganda
Rhyd, may I recommend to you The Duran, which is on Rumble, YouTube, etc. Two men of Greek heritage, Alex Christoforou, Greek American in Athens, and Alexander Mercouris, of British Greek identity, in London. The Duran is international & participatory. They critique both sides, loyal to neither the EU nor Putin, and have a friend in Kyiv, a Chilean-American, Gonzalo Lira, who is an observer. Their reports are more nuanced than anything else I've found - they quote Russian officials, EU leaders, & Americans like Scott Ritter. BTW, I also lived under flight paths of US troops into Iraq and NATO pilots training. It was awful. Praying under the trees makes great sense to me.
I read radindiemedia.com, which is aggregating the articles of a good number of leftist indie media publications and writers. From there I feel pretty informed about the historic and strategic background of all of this, including Russia's perspective.
Chris Hedges has the best overview of Putin's rationale and notes that western diplomats and leaders understood as early as 1989 that if NATO expanded to the Russian borders that Russia would view it as an act of aggression. Here is that link: https://scheerpost.com/2022/02/24/hedges-the-chronicle-of-a-war-foretold/
also: In one place you write "Less often reported is that men between the ages of 18 and 60 are now forbidden to leave the country and are stopped by Ukrainian soldiers aiding the flight of refugees." Referencing your later comment " apex-oppressor cis-white-heterosexual surplus males," shouldn't that have been "people with testicles" or perhaps "people who inseminate?" After all it is "people who menstruate" and "people who are pregnant." How come it is always women who are redefined in this way? And not men? It may just be me but it seems as if women are being erased as a category but not men. I think there is a word for this, something something gynist. Something like that.
Just as Finland was declared an Axis country because they were fighting Russia while Russia was fighting Germany and accepted weapons from Germany does not really make Finland an Axis country. Anymore than it made the British supporters of the Red Russians when they fought the White Russians and White Finns during the Archangel Expedition in 1919.
Yes there are far-right units on all sides. I do not use fascist lightly, and I try to use it correctly, as in Mussolini's actual definition of business running the government, which really makes all countries fascist to some degree.
Addition: it is widely reported that all adult males are being called into military service. It is conscription. My Grandfather, a WWI veteran, was required to register for the draft during WWII as was his older brothers, also WWI veterans. Not unusual.
I do find discussing the military with people who have never been rather interesting, because they have very narrow ideas of the what and why of conscription. This does not mean I support military action, that is why I left the Marines in 1991 after 14 years.
As for propaganda, you need to realize that it has two primary goals, building morale of the Ukrainians and lowering the morale of the Russians. Propaganda works both ways. Really given the odds, Ukraine needs the morale boost. And the Russian military is unsure of what they are doing, and the propaganda helps lower morale.
There is no way to know what true casualties are, at least Ukraine is admitting to human lives list, Russian State media, not so much.
One source I read a few years ago that I find interesting for the current moment is Gary Lachman's book Dark Star Rising: Magic and Power in the age of Trump. Putin also makes significant appearances in that book, tied together not because of Russiagate but some commonality of philosophies and some figures mentioned by political operatives both in the US and in Russia.
One of the interesting things that shines through about almost all the analyses published in the mainstream media is how they erase Ukraine (and Poland, the Baltic states, etc.) in all of the discussions. You have some people trying to pin the blame squarely on the US (they humiliated Putin, the expansion of NATO was aggression, etc.), while others act as though this came out of nowhere and Putin is crazy (ignoring wars waged in former Soviet republics, his public statements for decades, and efforts like granting Russian passports to ethnic Russians in Ukraine starting in 2019).
No one considers the perspective of Ukrainians really in all the articles dedicated to the current conflict. No one writes about the perspectives of Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, or Poles either when they expand the discussion to NATO generally and debate about countries in eastern Europe joining the alliance. It's something the US did, it's something that Russia views as aggression, only the great powers matter. The people in those countries have no agency, no history at all. There are hundreds of years of grievances with nary a mention in anyone's discussion of any of these issues, with efforts at forced Russification in the 1800s in Lithuania, for instance, and multiple massacres, famines, and the like.
I have been relying on Naked Capitalism, which is a blog and aggregator, with a morning set of links and an afternoon Water Cooler. The founder, Yves Smith, has an excellent track record, having explained just what was going to happen to Greece during the credit crunch and economic mayhem from its beloved (North) European partners.
Comments there are moderated strictly. There are a number of experts weighing in, including dissident economist Michael Hudson.
Through that blog, I discovered Gilbert Doctorow. Bracing commentary--and he's been accurate.
There is also an interesting interview with scholar / journalist Bryce Greene at Fair.org entitled "In Ukraine, ‘No One Hears That There Is a Diplomatic Solution' "
All in all, I am in agreement with you. It is upsetting to watch people walking into the hell that is war--eagerly. And the cheerleading for battle from the embittered Hilary-Clinton-deadenders is, errrrr, telling.
I just listened to Gilbert Doctorow being interviewed on the Trish Wood is Critical podcast this mooring. Great perspective. I felt less anxious after hearing his take on the operation in Ukraine and on Putin in general.
There's also a great talk on YouTube with professor John Mearsheimer posted Feb 15th. Mearsheimer raises the point that the US no longer sits at the helm of a unipolar global power structure. China and Russia are now serious power poles. The common thread in the Mearsheimer and Doctorow interviews seems to be that the responsible thing for the US to do would be to concede that it no longer dominates and start giving up some pieces of the pie. Not likely, me thinks...
This speaks for itself. https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2022/2/27/western-media-coverage-ukraine-russia-invasion-criticism
Funny, last night I was thinking about war and men. Not just men as an identity but physical tangible men as a body and our relationship to them, fathers, lovers, sons, brothers, etc... and was hoping there would be some thought from you on this. I find this morning that that is where your thoughts on the matter went as well, and appreciate it.