Compared to Col. Putin, Dr Goebbels was an amateur

No tyrannies, including totalitarian ones, rely wholly on violent coercion.

Violence is merely a default stratagem, used to deal with those in the population who won’t have their brains washed as thoroughly as the tyrants would like.

Such diehards may number in hundreds of thousands, as they did in revolutionary France; in millions, as they did in Soviet Russia; or in thousands, as they did in Nazi Germany.

These numbers are testimony to the propagandists’ success: the fewer people need to be coerced, the greater the brainwashing mastery.

Hence my hat’s off to Putin and his Goebbelses: their efforts lack the passionate drama of a Nuremberg rally, but overall they deliver better results.

The Russians are buying into the claims of Putin’s propaganda – and the more madcap the claims, the more readily they are accepted.

Being an inveterate sceptic, I find it easy to disbelieve Putin’s approval ratings, which top those of Obama, Cameron and Hollande combined.

Putin’s electoral majority is also easy to dismiss – after all, as his role model Stalin once remarked, it’s not how the votes are cast but how they’re counted that matters.

Yet here I am, looking at the kind of data that have to be taken seriously. Levada-Centre, Russia’s independent polling organisation, has run a large survey in Moscow, Petersburg and four other major cities.

The respondents were asked just one question: “Have you heard about the crash of the Malaysian airliner in the Ukraine and, if yes, what do you think caused it?”

Now, Flight MH-17 was brought down by a SAM fired from a Russian BUK system deployed on the territory controlled by Putin’s proxy troops.

Whether the chap who actually pushed the button was wearing a uniform with or without Russian insignia is immaterial. Putin controls the ‘separatists’ as tightly as he controls the Russian army proper.

Such are the facts, as they are known to everyone outside Putin’s immediate reach. Within that span, however, a different story is told. The ‘separatists’, you see, have no BUK systems in their possession.

Never mind the incontrovertible evidence to the opposite, such as radio intercepts, satellite intelligence and photographs showing BUKs in position days before the incident (the last one I’ve seen was in Le Figaro).

Never mind the interviews in which ‘separatist’ chieftains admitted to having such SAMs and actually firing one on the Malaysian airliner, albeit by mistake.

If the ‘separatists’ had no SAMs, they had no means of defending their skies against Malaysian airliners flying at 30,000 feet. They may have reported destroying several Ukrainian military aircraft at the same altitude, but presumably this had been done with catapults.

So why did the ill-fated plane crash? We do know it did, no argument there.

Putin’s propaganda answers this question with its customary élan: it’s the bloody Ukies what done it. The Ukrainian fascist government in the employ of the CIA, the EU and the Judaeo-Masonic conspiracy.

Why would they do such a thing when they desperately need all the international support they can get? Trust you to ask such a naïve question.

The Ukies committed this vile act in order to incriminate Putin, thereby besmirching his sterling reputation earned in the ranks of that great international charity known as the KGB.

To say that this version of the events stretches credulity would be a gross understatement. No one whose brain isn’t addled by the abrasive detergent used by Putin’s brainwashers would believe a single word of it.

So how did the survey go? Here are its statistically significant results:

“The airliner was shot down by a Ukrainian SAM” – 46%

“It was shot down by a Ukrainian Air Force fighter” – 36%

“It was shot down by the separatists” – 3%

“It was shot down by the Russians” – 1%

The remaining respondents cited such causes as pilot error, technical malfunction and so on. In other words, 82% of the Russian population buy Putin’s lies wholesale, against a mere four per cent rejecting them, with a few not quite sure.

I don’t know if you’ve ever studied the techniques of mass propaganda or, better still, been exposed to them. I’ve done both, and let me tell you: no other fascist propagandist has ever achieved the same hit rate – and no non-fascist propagandist has ever attempted to achieve it.

Such giant coups are impossible even to contemplate in the absence of a total, not to say totalitarian, state control over the flow of information – a reliable hallmark of any fascism, including its klepto- variety.

Sure enough, all Russian mass media are crushed under Putin’s thumb. All TV channels and mainstream papers are spewing nothing but lies, and even the Internet is tightly controlled. Anti-Putin sites, such as Grani (Facets) and Yezhednevnyi Jurnal (Daily Journal) have been blocked. And a diktat was issued two days ago that even blogs the size of mine must comply with government regulations.

Such is the context of Dave’s call to ‘rethink’ Nato’s relationship with Russia.

The verb ‘rethink’ implies some prior thinking. This is as much of a lie as Putin’s propaganda, the difference being that 82% of us aren’t going to believe it.

No thinking has ever gone into formulating the West’s policy towards post-communist Russia, at least none meriting the lofty word ‘thought’.

Our governing spivs gobbled up the perestroika propaganda with the same alacrity as the Russians are now swallowing Putin’s lies.

Suddenly an opportunity presented itself to get fat on the peace dividend, to stop spending billions on maintaining a creditable military presence. Who needs armies if we no longer have enemies? And the money can be more profitable spent on bribing the underclass into voting right.

The whole world loves us, liberal democracy has won a decisive victory. History has ended, declared Francis Fukayama, that most toxic of the neocon fools and knaves.

The world reeled under the influence of the triumphalist spirit, ignoring naysayers like me, who were begging the West from the word glasnost to be prudent at least, sage ideally.

After the inebriation comes the hangover. Suddenly Dave and other spivs have discovered that the leopard still proudly sports his spots. What do you know, seems like the Russians regard Nato as an ‘adversary’.

Forget intelligence services doing their job. Anyone who has read the Russian press over the last 20 years could have told Dave the same thing all along, before those 298 poor people suffered a horrible death.

Negligent myopia in domestic policy can destroy the country’s economy, morality and social fabric. When applied to foreign policy, it can destroy the world. A useful thing to remember exactly 100 years after August 1914.

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