Point-blank: Personalise and demonise

Mohamed Salmawy
Tuesday 19 Sep 2023

The West always personalises its conflicts and demonises the person of the enemy. In World War II, the US-led Allied Powers masterfully personalised their conflict with Nazi Germany although Hitler’s bloodthirsty policies facilitated their demonisation of him.


After the war when the Soviet Union emerged as the new enemy, the West demonised Stalin whose policies also contributed to the success of Western propaganda. Just as Hitler had killed six million Jews, it was said that Stalin killed six million of his own people.

Apparently, the West has still not tired of its hackneyed strategy. Its latest target is Russian President Vladimir Putin in whose person the West has condensed the entirety of the US/NATO conflict with Russia.

According to the Western propaganda machine, he is a mad dictator who cannot be reasoned with and who must be thoroughly crushed and categorically defeated.

It is hard to say whether this strategy has succeeded this time. If you follow Western media, you will not doubt that it has worked like magic. But when you dig deeper, you will find thinkers in the West who deny this. Rather than seeing Putin as a demonic lunatic, they urge Western officials to deal with him as a rational political adversary.

Foremost among those individuals is the venerable statesman Henry Kissinger who, in recent interviews, offers an alternative perspective and calls on Western leaders to try to win Putin over to their side in the West’s hidden war with China.

Other prominent critics of Western policy on Russia are former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, former Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Indeed, a few days ago, Sarkozy said it was wrong for Europe to follow US policy on Russia because European interests are not identical with the US interests.

Sarkozy also holds that Ukraine should remain a neutral country and not be admitted to NATO and that Crimea is an integral and inseparable part of Russia. Is there any hope that such rational voices will have a bearing on how the West manages its conflict with Russia?

* A version of this article appears in print in the 21 September, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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