Small Wars Journal

Unveiling Western Narratives to Build Better Strategies

Mon, 08/01/2022 - 4:13pm

Unveiling Western Narratives to Build Better Strategies

By Iman Basharat

The media is a potent tool. The transformation of media from something that could only be accessed through wires to something that was everywhere brought about a significant change in how people interacted, created narratives, and shared tales. Because they form and affect people's views on political and social issues, narratives play a significant part in our lives. Your story, and the way you choose to tell it as the state's leader, directly affects the people and states around you.

Western media has always had a taste for misleading information, and they are excellent at creating narratives that support them. Since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian Crisis, the western media has never shied away from displaying bias. Other crises that occurred in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, and numerous other countries did not receive the same response from western media because they did not affect “civilized nations”.

A senior correspondent for CBS News commented, “This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European – I have to choose those words carefully, too – city where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.”[1]

Afghanistan was a peaceful, "civilized" country up until 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded and turned it into a battleground between the West and the Soviet Block. This is a fact that their media consistently fails to portray to the outside world. Before the 2003 American strike, Iran experienced the same thing. The United States and other western countries have committed several international crimes and violated the UN charter, but neither a substantial action is taken against them, nor are they designated as terrorists.

David Sakvarelidze, a former deputy general prosecutor for Ukraine, spoke with the BBC and said, “It is very emotional for me because I see European people with blonde hair and blue eyes being killed every day with Putin’s missiles and his rockets.”[2]

This statement drew criticism from many all around the world who said that Hitler's phrases from Mein Kampf about the superior Aryan race, "Blue eyes and blonde hair," were used in that statement. "But it was okay when people with 'blue eyes and blonde hair' were dumping bombs over the Middle East and Africa," they added.

A recent photo session for Vogue Magazine featuring Ukraine President Zelensky and First Lady Olena Zelensky was met with harsh criticism. The first lady was depicted standing unarmed in a war-torn environment, endorsing herself and her husband as the bearers of democracy and peace.



vUkraine President Zelenskyy Poses With Wife For Vogue As War Ravages  Country Gets Heavily Trolled



The shooting portrays them as non-combatants who are helpless victims of the conflict. The notion that they are battling for humanity and the welfare of their people is furthered by the first lady's appearance seated on a grand staircase that is laden with food supplies.

The essential thing to keep in mind in this situation is that these messengers of peace travelled all the way to the United States to request guns for their own protection. The first lady can request weaponry while still promoting democracy and world peace.


Their reasoning is understandable since they are attempting to protect their country, and since they are Europeans, they have an even greater right to self-defense.

But if the country requesting the right to self-defense isn't European, can the same understanding be expected from the rest of the world? Will their actions be regarded as heroics? Will glamorized photo shoots and movies depict their struggle? Or will they be branded as terrorists simply because they are Muslims or brown or have beards? These are just several of the concerns that people around the world who are victims of false western agendas.

They have witnessed loss, starvation, and death. Like any other nation, they toil day in and day out to defend their homeland. They have been battling to reclaim what is legitimately theirs for as long as we can remember, yet they are not and never will be seen as heroes because they resemble the villains of western novels and movies much too much. Their perspective will humanize them, but no one will glamorize their struggles because they aren't civilized in accordance with western standards.

Our culture is constantly portrayed as exotic, primitive, uncivilized, and occasionally deadly from an oriental perspective. We unknowingly consume information with an oriental perspective through reading, viewing, and other media, and this viewpoint is contagious. It impairs our respect for our own culture and faith. We start to turn against our own. The appearance on Twitter of images of ladies in western clothing in Karachi and Kabul, which were described as "good times," is a prime example of this. The issue here is not dressing in western clothing, but rather shaming women for wearing the hijab or other traditional clothing.

The only way to escape this oriental narrative loophole is for us to become conscious of the information being given to us, to be proud of the challenges we and our ancestors have faced, to own our culture and rectify its shortcomings rather than to look down on it and turn against one another. There is "us" and there is "them," with lost tales, fictitious heroes, and invented villains existing in the spaces between. It's time we craft our own tales, tell them aloud, and share them with others around us.

About the Author(s)

Iman Basharat is an undergraduate student of Peace and Conflict Studies at the National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad