For approximately nine years, we have written and informed people about the Ukrainian crisis and now the war through different mediums. Despite the scale and the geopolitical tension that this European war has generated, one thing has been apparent from the beginning of the crisis and that is the total lack of coherent debate between journalists, analysts or commentators supporting opposing sides. For anyone attentively following the media, the main question was which side was refusing the engagement and more importantly why, because this situation still prevails whenever we are speaking about main stream media or the other alternative information sources.
Gonzalo Lirarecently announced that he has been in search of participants for a debate for a while and despite being frustrated by numerous refusals, he finally settled on two pro-NATO participants who accepted the challenge.
With a lot of expectation, we waited like many others for something that was different from the usual bar brawl kind of discussion that we are served on a daily basis on Social Media.
One has to be honest as on any of the sides you may stand, one day or another, you will be faced with this terrible question. “What if I’m wrong? What if I am standing with the bad guys? What if I am being fooled? “. If that turns out to be the case, one has to get a fair chance to take the road to Damascus if necessary. That is why this kind of debate is extremely important as the public is able during these interactions to judge for itself which side provided the best argument, who appears to be honest and to be able to learn more about the situation as the participants in order to win hearts, will deploy their best talking points. Unfortunately, it was everything but a debate. Let’s try to analyze this 3 hour fifteen minute program where almost everything went wrong and no one learned anything new while losing precious hours of sleep (depending in which area of the globe you live).
I watch most of the Roundtable,I often pick ideas that I transfer to the guys as ref for their articles.However I suspect that you had to drop quality criteria. You'll have no problem with such lightweights but as the french says 'To win without perils one triumph without glory'— Astro Verbot Julia (Julia Bean Brooks) (@AstroVerbot) January 7, 2023
Things started pretty well, for ten minutes Gonzalo Lira explained why he organized the debate and addressed himself specifically to the audiences of Destiny and Lazer Pig (The pro NATO participants of the debate) who expressed previous doubts about both Gonzalo’s Lira Location (City of Kharkov in Ukraine) and his alleged detention by the SBU (Ukrainian Intelligence & Security Service) in 2022. To which accusations, Lira responded by speaking quite extensively about his location, the reasons why he does not pinpoint with absolute accuracy the said location and the circumstances of his detention. Obviously from where you stand you may decide if the explanations of Gonzalo Lira were acceptable or farfetched but the fact that he took the time to specifically address the audiences of his opponents and welcomed gracefully both men gave hope for a decent and constructive debate.
Gonzalo Lira is a seasoned YouTuber who can be facetious, sometimes he rushes too quickly to comment on unconfirmed information (something that all the journalists covering the conflict have found to be tricky), his conclusions do not always turn out to be exact but when that happens and his analysis has failed to meet the realities of the conflict, he always comes back to his mistakes and he rectifies them in a following show. Lira has a great sense of humor; he can be self derogatory which specifically is meant to enhance the qualities of the invitees of his roundtables. He is able to defend his convictions with passion and valid arguments. The reader will understand that Lira is a colorful character with a touch of arrogance in his words and a display of courage (or foolishness) in his bold decision to do his work from Kharkov which definitively accounts for part of his success as a commentator in the alternative media world. Before passing on to the other participants of the debate, a last word on Gonzalo Lira’s location, the city of Kharkov which is a place that we know very well at The International Outsider as some of our members have resided there during the past and we maintain contacts as much as we can in the city. If people are astonished by the fact that Lira as a foreigner is able to comment from a place controlled by the Kiev Government who certainly do not view his very often pro Russian stance with a favorable eye, Gonzalo explains that he is able to maintain his position mainly by the fact that many people (One must read powerful or at least influential people) from different countries where he has official residency, would be extremely upset if he came to suddenly disappear. As it happened, the alternative media Gurus went on the offensive when Lira was arrested last year and those who have followed the case would have noticed that the outcry came from very influential people and sometimes, from those in official positions. So it seems that the strategy of Lira concerning his security at least for the moment is a viable one. However on this very same subject, this strategy could hold until the government of Kiev is faced with imminent defeat, at that point the situation of Gonzalo Lira could rapidly become problematic. If this was to happen, it is important to note that Gonzalo Lira has lived in the City of Kharkov since 2012 and the date here is important as it was 2 solid years before the events of the Maidan.
In 2014 when the elected elected government of Ukraine was ousted by what was presented as a popular revolution (but which was in fact an orchestrated coup by the same western powers which are today backing the war effort of Ukraine) leading to the semi autonomous region of Crimea breaking away from Ukraine. Following this example, the regions of Lugansk and Donesk revolted and proclaimed that they did not accept the rule of the new authorities in Kiev, an event which lead to the actual war. The City of Kharkov which was once the capital of Ukraine and the second city of the country, was and is still mostly populated by ethnic Russians and Kharkov attempted to revolt against the authorities too and would have succeeded if Kiev did not take drastic steps to ensure its grip on the city and to break any secessionist movements. During all these years, Gonzalo Lira would have developed contacts among the population and these contacts could be the ones who would have helped him during his detention and will be key in the case events were to turn out worse. One has to keep in mind that Ukraine is a very corrupt country and the city of Kharkov does not escape this rule and when someone is arrested ,it is also a card that one can play to get out of trouble.
At The International Outsider, no one was familiar with the so called pro NATO participants both Destiny and LazerPig who were unknown to us. We rather take the western and NATO point of view from the usual suspects, Press releases from the American DOD or the White House, Reuters, the BBC, CNN etc. We recognized that we were carrying our own bias as the position of our newspaper concerning this conflict is considered more or less pro Russian (Although we deny that it defines us but that is how people publishing the kind or article we do are painted) and we decided not to scan the profiles or the YouTube channel of the other participants not to add to our biases and rather judge them exclusively according to their performances.
If we can call it a ‘debate’ the show took immediately a weird turn with Gonzalo Lira acting dedicatedly like an ambush predator. He virtually did not give a chance to his adversaries to talk and constantly interrupted them when they finally got an occasion to do so. Lira also adopted a formula where he prepared ten presentation slides with multiple statements to which the participants had no other choice than to answer by true or false. Everyone who has been to court or pressed in such a situation would tell you that it can be if used in a pernicious way, and is one of the most manipulative techniques not meant to uncover the truth but to embarrass the opponent by not giving him the chance to effectively explain his choices. During almost two painful hours those who were following the program were served an unpalatable interaction which never really took off as expected. It was very strange to see Gonzalo Lira take this approach as one would think that the best way was to let the adversary talk out his soul and give to him the legendary rope with which one hopes the opponent will hang himself . Later, Gonzalo himself gives the reasons which lead to the failure of the show. We will come to that later but let’s first see what the missed occasions of this non event were.
The YouTuber Destiny immediately called for precision about the extremely controversial pro Ukrainian website Myrotvorets allegedly an extremist website calling for murder of their opponents. Irrelevant of your nationality, if you are critical of the Kiev regime Myrotvorets considers you a legitimate target and will publish details about you and celebrate your death if that comes to be by adding an X next to your profile, meaning that a threat was eliminated. Additional controversy about Myrotvorets is that it is said by their detractors (and there are many) that the website is hosted in Brussels by NATO. This allegation has flourished in social media and is quite widely accepted by the people having pro Russian views. In the pro Ukrainian camp, the opinions about Myrotvorets are diverse: many will tell you that the website in itself is not an extremist one and that the accusations against it are only the work of paranoid brains. It is also fair to say that during our wanderings on social media, we encountered a number of pro Ukrainians who felt ashamed by this kind of website and did not want to have anything to do with it and we have our reasons to suspect that it could be the reasoning of a silent majority of the pro Ukrainian camp. But the issue was not here , the issue was, was it indeed hosted by NATO or not?
For Gonzalo Lira it did not make a shadow of a doubt that Myrotvorets was hosted by NATO. He explained that though he is not knowledgeable of how it has been done, the IP address has however been retraced to the NATO Headquarters and that was confirmed by some of his contacts who allegedly were tech savvy. To what Destiny one of the opponents of lira made a valid point, he had done a DNS search and the results he had obtained were that the website was hosted by Cloudflare and that one would never be able to pull an IP from Cloudflare. This very same website on which you are reading this article has also like millions of others, it’s domain hosted by Cloudflare (slide your mouse pointer to the top left of the page and click on the padlock Icon) and we know as a fact that without ‘special skills’ it would be a mission to get this info from Cloudflare. Furthermore, Destiny explained that the only link to NATO that he has been able to trace was an embedded video of the military alliance. A bit like the roundtable video that we have embedded atop this article to illustrate this article; it does not mean that the roundtable is affiliated to us and it does not mean that we are hosting this video (Which is hosted by YouTube in this case). Note that Destiny did not say that he does not believe that the website is hosted by NATO, he explained that he had not found any evidence leading to such a conclusion and we definitively will give him credit here even though Gonzalo Lira promised to send to Destiny detailed info in a mail that had to be separate. And that was the end of it. We calculated that Gonzalo Lira Spoke around 7 minutes about Myrotvorets while Destiny formulated his objection, asked a relevant question and made a conclusion all of which lasted 1 minute 15 seconds from 11:56 to 13:11 . We argue that it was a golden occasion missed by Gonzalo Lira to interact with his opponents as Myrotvorets is a real subject of concern among all those who follow the events in Ukraine. A fact that is not widely known is that the UN and some European countries have demanded the closure of the site but that demand was refused by the Ukrainian parliament. Even more concerning about "Myrotvorets" is that the website is also recognized by the Courts of Ukraine when making decisions, according to rights group Uspishna Varta. According to them, the data collected on the website is used in court decisions at all stages - from the beginning of the pre-trial investigation to the conviction of the person. We could have known if Destiny or LazerPig
supports the content of such websites, if they agree about the ways of Myrotvorets whose practices are so condemned by many. If it was revealed that both men and one of them was absolutely against the obnoxious content of Myrotvorets, the two parties would have found a common ground , the building block of a bridge which can unite, but were any of the participants looking for such a building block?
Before commenting on the statements prepared by Lira, both his opponents complained for being called Pro NATO as both considered themselves Pro Ukrainian and not pro NATO. Lira however did not concede that such thing was possible , but instead he made a precision by distinguishing between being pro Ukrainian and pro Zelenski as being pro Zelenski meant for him being de facto pro NATO. His reasoning for the latter makes sense as the Zelenski government has pertinently perused a politic of integration in the North Atlantic Alliance, an endeavor encouraged by Ukraine’s western backers. We had something here, we could have had a determining discussion about was it meant in this conflict to be pro Ukrainian as even Gonzalo Lira thinks about himself as pro Ukrainian. Again an opportunity missed as we assisted instead to a Gonzalo Lira antagonizing his opponents and imposing his point of view so much that one could only agree with the wise words of the YouTuber Destiny saying “Can’t we attempt to bridge the two here? Like is it not possible to support one side without supporting every one of the single parties supporting that side?”. Again that was the end was the end of it, what had the potential to be an interesting discovery of the protagonists views and even personae early in the debate was left unexploited.
20 minutes into the debate and heroic are those who survived that much, Gonzalo unveiled one of his statements in the third panel of his power point presentation which read as “Putin Invaded Ukraine because of constant shelling of ethnic Russians in the Donbass since 2016, resulting in 16000 dead”. A continuum and plethora of events are necessary to understand the Ukrainian conflict but the reasons behind the death and casualties of the people of the Donbass prior to the events of February 2022 is key to understand the origins of the conflict. Not astonishingly, opinions differ in the matter, people inclined to trust Russian oriented sources give around 14,000 deaths of which 9000 were civilians including 1000 infants and children and five thousand combatants, both Russian and Ukrainian. In October 2018 after 4 years of military operations, the chief Ukrainian Military Prosecutor reported that 2700 Ukrainian military personal died in the Donbass, the death included, 891 from illnesses, 318 from road accidents, 177 from other accidents, 175 from poisonings (alcohol and Drugs), 172 from careless handling of weapons, 101 from breaches of security regulations, 228 for murder and 616 from suicide. Wikipedia which we do not quote as a trusted source but for the sake of differentiating the estimations gives a number of total death of 14000 to 14200, including military and civilians with a breakdown as follows, 3404 civilian deaths, Ukrainian military 4641, DPR and LPR forces 6517 and 500 Russian armed forces . Gonzalo Lira maintained that the civilian casualties were 16000 among which 900 were children. It is not probable that the protagonists of the debate would have resolved their differences concerning the casualties but the discussion if brought in the right direction would have lead to the reasons why the Ukrainian government was for 8 years murdering its own population. The audience could have had a better grasp on why did the people of the Donbass revolt and certainly what was the position of the pro Ukrainian protagonists in the debate faced with the massacre, alas the audience was deceived again as nothing as such was tackled properly.
Half an hour into the discussion after having been called a liar, constantly interrupted and unable to place any of his arguments, the YouTuber Destiny left and sincerely as his co debater LazerPig put it, “How can we blame him” this placid conclusion was we guess, the reaction of the honest viewers of the show. This painful exercise was to last for about 75 more minutes but now we had only two protagonists facing each other.
LazerPig was already under intense fire and with the departure of Destiny so things escalated for him and we lost count of how many times the man was verbally molested. Here again, Gonzalo Lira missed several occasions to redeem a show which was heading the Titanic way. One of these occasions occurred while still on the discussion of the shelling of ethnic Russians in the Donbass which overflew on the not less contentious subject of the Azov Battalion or Azov Legion as LazerPig preferred to call one of the most infamous Neo-Nazi military units incorporated in the Ukrainian armed forces. Around 37 min:10 in the debate, LazerPig affirmed with conviction that the Azov Legion was funded by the Ethnic Russians which quite frankly would have horrified any ethnic Russian of the Donbass as well anyone who considered himself a supporter of the Russian cause. Nevertheless, we would have been curious to know if LazerPig deliberately threw this enormity aiming to provoke or was he genuinely believing that nonsense and if that was so, where had his information come from. One of the main objective of the Russian war effort is the de-Nazification of Ukraine and the Azov battalion is one of the corner stone’s of the narrative supporting this accusation so one could sense that the arguments of LazerPig were not defendable and when he himself ventured to say “ If you want to take a step back…” We wished that Gonzalo Lira would have let him continue but instead after some curious laughs emitted by LazerPig and a few impolite exchanges, Gonzalo simply shifted to his next statement not without giving what was according to him, the origins and funding of the Azov Battalion, a view that we also come to share at The International Outsider.
We could analyze the exchange which lasted almost two hours but ultimately it will be only for reporting colorful insults and the regretting of the ‘What it could have been’. However two interesting moments which could have been exploited are notable because they are key again to comprehending the conflict. At a certain point of the debate, Gonzalo compared the purported/so called Albanian ethnic cleansing to the Ukrainian systematic targeting of civilians in the Donbass during 8 years prior to the actual war. It is indeed a subject which most Pro Ukrainian and Nato supporters are shy to tackle. Instead of speaking of the ethnic cleansing per se, Lira should have engaged LazerPig on the tricky question of the independence of the breakaway Kosovo region from Serbia which was recognized by the United States and some European states. The right of the Kosovars to secede that NATO had defended with its military might, the same right that the United States and the NATO powers refuse categorically to extend to Crimea or to the Donbass and Lugansk regions but to be fair to Gonzalo, he also said that he was not very familiar with the Yugoslavian war.
And of course the one discussion around a statement of Gonzalo Lira which could have saved the debate is the controversial Minsk agreements. One could have been half surprised by one answer of Lazer Pig when he agreed to the statement stipulating that the Kiev Regime was unwilling to abide to the Minsk 2 agreements. LazerPig seemed to justify the latter by pointing out that the Minsk agreements were violated by both sides. However, Gonzalo failed to engage him on the fact that Minsk was Guaranteed by treaty and the guarantors were the United States, Germany, France and the federation of Russia. Lira missed a golden occasion to ask LazerPig what he made of the International Law in which Minsk is enshrined and backed by the United Nations Security Council and the reader will have guessed by now that this exchange never happened either.
At the beginning of this article we made clear that we were not familiar with the work of either Destiny or LazerPig but very quickly one noticed that the two men were suspicious of walking into a trap as Destiny seemed to have been informed about the general theme of the show some 12 minutes into the debate which is rather curious. Nonetheless, anyone who has followed the debate can attest that the two men made genuine efforts to engage in the conversation.
The aim of the debate was to determine if the pro Ukrainians/NATO were ignorant or ultimately evil. The title itself should has raised alarms bells in the head of any potential participant but here again we may be wrong but it seems that there were little if any preparations made before the show except perhaps maybe a few DM’s (Direct Messages) exchanged between the protagonists.
Who goes to a meeting or anywhere for that matter to determine if he/she is Ignorant or Evil? In both cases, it only proves that you are some kind of Moronic individual since such a title could result only with the participants taking an aggressive approach. On the other hand, we were surprised to see both men taking it much more calmly that one could have expected, even more troubling, one had the unsettling impression that it was Gonzalo Lira who increasingly became upset in front of the rather calm attitude of his opponents. Would it have not been better to use the word Mislead instead of Ignorant and Plotters instead of Evil?
Why is that important? Simply because it is quite a widely spread belief among people following the Ukrainian war is that it is the Pro Ukrainian camp that refuses to engage in debates. (And there are very good reasons to support that line of thought). The pro Nato/Ukraine supporters can and will certainly make use of shows with a pitiful performance like the Roundtable #40 as an example why they do not engage in debates with the other camps. Unfortunately, this very edition of an otherwise excellent show was a text book of what should not be done and can easily be used as a showcase.
To conclude about Destiny, we have not been able to determine if he was honest or not but for the little he was able to say and judging mainly by his body language, we would say more honest that dishonest. Destiny seemed willing to debate on a wider spectrum than the statements of Lira rather than a misleading and incomplete true or false answer; which is how a debate should be approached despite the fact that Gonzalo Lira was the host and subsequently the rule maker. We could not judge the depth of knowledge of Destiny on the subject as he was not really allowed to talk. To summarize, Destiny made a decent and honorable appearance and if we come across his content, we may check it out. However it seems to us that Destiny could have been the prime target of this non event.
LazerPig also genuinely made efforts to engage in the conversation and we gave him ten out of ten to have been able to stay up to the end before being extremely rudely dismissed by the globe trotter analyst who literally verbally butchered LazerPig with the help of a weaponized power point presentation. Many would have wondered why LazerPig stayed up to the end, was it to keep the moral high ground? Whatever the reasons may have been for LazerPig to stay around, it was sadomasochistic to allow someone to do that to you.
LazerPig’s performance all along the show was mediocre and to a limit, grotesque. The depth of his knowledge on the Ukrainian conflict is questionable. For n historian (LazerPig referred to himself few times during the show as an historian), what a curious statement to say that the American Civil War was boring and almost irrelevant. The man admitting that the Minsk agreement was not taken seriously since the beginning may lead us to think that he is dishonest because he is supporting people like Merkel, Poroshenko and Hollande who admitted that they were deliberately fooling the Russians. It would have been interesting to know if he had this opinion about Minsk since the start of the crisis in 2014 or if it was just recently with the revelations of Angela Merkel and the others that he adopted this posture. LazerPig did not even put a decent defense while the Chilean with the red cap was savagely hammering him. At one point, the only way that this eccentric character found adequate to counter a Lira on steroids was to ask if the host of the show could sing the Ukrainian Anthem as evidence of being a supporter of this nation. We won’t check the work of LazerPig as we doubt we would survive another demonstration of his hysterical laugh but that being said, no one should be treated like he was either.
It was a very unsettling article to put together for one, Gonzalo Lira is one of these people that we promote as being part of this new guard, a group of people like Alexander Mercouris, Brian Berletic, Alex Christoforou, Scott Ritter, Garland Nixon, Jackson Hinkle and so many that deserve to be quoted as in the forefront of the war against misinformation mainly coming from the western Capitals. If someone doubts the capacity of Gonzalo Lira to debate with someone having different views on Ukraine, you simply have to check the following show. At the end of the episode 41 of the Roundtable, Gonzalo demonstrated how different and effective he can be during these occasions, so much that we could not repress this none less unsettling impression that the whole scheme of the previous show was premeditated.
Gonzalo Lira himself admitted that it was a ‘Shit Show’ and accept that it was a failure and Brian Berletic one of the most astute commentators in breaking the military logistic in Ukraine, summarized the matter by replying to Gonzalo Lira , “You are not really shaped for debates.”
Our thoughts were encompassed by JJ acting as a moderator on the show , he commented “ …I would at least give to them the benefit of the doubt……. I could not tell you if even those two actually believe or….and I did not get to know and I think that’s kind of the tragedy of the show” Which in a nutshell is our overall impression.
For us the real tragedy is that Gonzalo Lira, quite distressed by the results of this show quite understandably, said that he would not again attempt such an experiment and that, we think is a mistake. The idea behind the show is excellent as it is clear that the population of the west is totally misinformed and dangerously mislead but it also seems that these people did not go to any great extent to know what is really going on in Ukraine and to find out the truth is not as difficult as one may think. What does that tell us about the honesty of the Europeans or more globally, the western population? How will the historians of the future weigh and attribute the responsibilities of the horrific tragedy unfolding on the battlefield in Ukraine? We need to debate and not scream at each other because while analysts very often quote that this conflict is existential for Russia, it is omitting how existential it is for Ukraine, how profound and destabilizing it is for Europe and how close humanity is now to the precipice.
But let’s not throw the stones too quickly at poor old Gonzalo as even people as moderate and self controlled as Alexander Mercouris would find difficult if not impossible to keep their cool in front of Justin Trudeau, his ‘Bête Noire’ and everyone agrees that Mercouris is always right except maybe for his choice of wallpaper. So let’s hope that Gonzalo gets rapidly over this ‘Faux Pas’ and does what he does the best, delivering excellent shows and standing like a chain smoking stonewall in the middle of Kharkov, facing the grotesque aberration which now governs Ukraine.
What is not written does not exist.
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