Why I wrote “Grand Deception: The Browder Hoax”?
In the past year, quite a few people have asked me why I wrote “Grand Deception,” my twice banned book about Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act and the historical relations between Russia and the West. I have to confess, I’ve asked myself the same question many times, particularly during the process of writing it.
Writing a book is not easy. Even if you think you know exactly what you want to say, you can’t just rant off whatever’s on your mind. You have to think through the book’s structure, formulate an outline and decide where each part of the story fits so that you may produce a coherent and readable whole. It’s a laborious and often frustrating process.
So why go through all the trouble? Here’s the background to my urge to write “Grand Deception”: as a young man I’ve lived through the breakout of war in the former Yugoslavia and I served in the Croatian army during the war. The remarkable thing about the build-up to that war was that only days before its full outbreak, most people thought that war could never happen. It seemed unthinkable. I certainly did not believe it would happen.
War changes everything
Yugoslavia’s ethnicities, cultures and religions were intertwined in many ways over many generations. While haters did exist, most people by far did not want to hate their neighbors, did not want a war and positively wanted to preserve peace. However, once the shooting, the victims and the destruction started, everything changed. Our societies rapidly polarized: nuanced, emphatic regard for the other side quickly went out of style, pacifism became unpatriotic, and political opposition became tantamount to treason. People on all sides closed ranks behind their leaders, patriotism and readiness to fight became supreme virtues and the collective psyche rapidly morphed into the black and white, “us against them” mode. The business of war then became the nation’s primary preoccupation.
Having lived through this transition of a society’s collective psyche makes it hard for me to be relaxed about Bill Browder’s relentless, unhinged demonization of Russia and its leadership. The effectiveness of his anti-Russian campaigning indicates that there’s a powerful network backing him, and that their agenda goes far beyond Browder’s supposed fight for justice for his lawyer accountant Sergei Magnitsky. Browder’s campaign has in fact catalyzed a dangerous escalation in the west’s hostile posturing toward Russia, which has been worse than what we’ve seen during last century’s Cold War against the Soviet Union.
It is not too late for a serious discussion
At present, we can still talk about Russia and Vladimir Putin in somewhat nuanced terms, exchange opposing opinions and disagree. A hot war with Russia is still unthinkable to most people. For me however, it is not difficult to imagine that one provocation, one false-flag incident credibly attributed to Russia could dramatically change all that. Our societies might suddenly polarize and the collective psyche could morph into the black-and-white, us against them mode… Nobody should think this impossible: two world wars had already broken out on the European continent and we ought to take the lessons of the past seriously lest we complacently sleepwalk into the third one.
This is why I wrote “Grand Deception.” My intent was to unmask Bill Browder’s narrative, which is being used to bolster the rationale for the west’s antagonistic attitude toward Russia. I also wanted to counter the ceaseless demonization of Russia and of Vladimir Putin. Deception and demonization are always used to generate public consent for, or at least a passive acquiescence to war.
Why the demonization of Putin is dangerous
Demonization of Vladimir Putin might be particularly dangerous as it predisposes the public, especially those who deem themselves fair minded and progressive, to accept war as a way to “help” Russian people to free themselves from tyranny and oppression and gain greater freedom and democracy. While wars for resources or hegemony are never acceptable to the public, fighting wars to protect human rights is a different thing altogether. I have encountered depressingly many otherwise well-meaning and learned intellectuals who’d strain to justify even clearly illegal wars, so long as they believed them to be motivated by human rights considerations.
Thus, casting the target nation’s leader in the role of the villain with no redeeming qualities is among the key prerequisites in orchestrating a war. Examples include Slobodan Milosevic (Serbia), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Moammar Gaddafi (Libya) and Bashar Al Assad (Syria). As the media do their part in earnest, it becomes very difficult to find any positive — or even somewhat balanced — coverage of the designated villain.
Western corporate media has treated Vladimir Putin as a villain with no redeeming qualities almost from the very beginning of his Presidency. Unflattering, negative coverage is being pushed out almost without interruption, and where concrete evidence should be presented, ceaseless repetition of allegation is taken as sufficient proof. This is reminiscent of Joseph Goebbels’ big lie technique. A good example is the way Bill Browder “proved” Putin’s corruption. His proof is laughable, yet numerous media personalities treating Browder as an authority on the matter and repeat his allegations as unquestionable facts. As suspicious as such blatant bias should be, the big lie technique seems to be effective. Today, most westerners — especially the intellectual class of people who diligently keep themselves informed by reading the press — seem quite convinced that Putin is a tyrant, that he routinely has critics and political rivals assassinated, that he amassed a vast personal fortune and that he runs Russia as his own personal fiefdom.
When the demonization campaign escalated to hysteria in the aftermath of the 2014 coup in Ukraine, I decided to do a bit of my own research and try to find if Vladimir Putin did in fact have some redeeming qualities as a person. Did he deserve all the slander he receives from the western media? Do his actions show him to be a vicious tyrant? Or is his wickedness the big lie perpetrated by our ruling elites to pave the way to the next big war? Keep in mind, there are well understood systemic reasons why western economic/political establishment regularly resorts to war as their preferred policy tool.
Editor’s Note: Alex Krainer book Grand Deception: The Browder Hoax is now available through our website.