Michelle Semet is our regular contributor. This article also appeared at Letters from Globistan
In the Bizarro universe inhabited by the western mainstream media, elite opinion makers and professional mouthpieces have completely abandoned fact-based journalism in favor of outright gaslighting and propaganda dissemination in its questionable coverage of American foreign policy. Russia has decisively displaced ISIS as America’s Public Enemy #1 for the moment, as evidenced by the avalanche of sensationalist articles accusing Putin of nuclear warmongering. Fanciful speculation is routinely passed off as serious political analysis, serving to distract the discourse with frivolous insinuations of Putin’s alleged personality defects. Dissenting opinions are ruthlessly excluded from the official story, making it easy for the casual news consumer to mistake cynical groupthink for objective reality.
Scripting Russia’s Villainous Character Development In Real Time
According to the official narrative, the Americans are the reluctant enforcers of human rights as Putin recklessly pushes for nuclear war. In this latest revision, France and Germany reprise their roles as the spineless and unprincipled allies who refuse to defend Ukrainian democracy because of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
To make the case that Russia is lurching towards diplomatic belligerence, much hay has been made regarding the revision of Russia’s military doctrine:
“Although the revised Russian military doctrine in December 2014 is not new in its allowance of tactical nuclear weapons in the case of a conventional attack that “threatens the very existence” of the Russian state, given the strengthening of Russia’s narrative regarding its own perceived encirclement by NATO, such threats are potentially open to more dangerous interpretation.” Sarah Lain, IB Times
Feckless allegations and paranoid speculations about Putin’s motives are published as unassailable fact in prestigious media outlets, casting Russia as the mustachio-twirling nuclear villain of our fevered imaginations:
“Others want nuclear weapons not to freeze the status quo, but to change it. Russia has started to wield nuclear threats as an offensive weapon in its strategy of intimidation. Its military exercises routinely stage dummy nuclear attacks on such capitals as Warsaw and Stockholm. Mr Putin’s speeches contain veiled nuclear threats. Dmitry Kiselev, one of the Kremlin’s mouthpieces, has declared with relish that Russian nuclear forces could turn America into “radioactive ash”. The Economist
“No one wants to acknowledge the truth: We won’t sell even defensive weapons to Ukraine because Russia is a nuclear power, and because Russia keeps reminding us of that fact. Last month, the Russian government declared it had put nuclear-capable missiles near the city of Kaliningrad, in striking range of Warsaw, Stockholm, and possibly Berlin. To underline the point, they also put a few more missiles in Crimea. During the last NATO summit, Russia suddenly decided to get out its nuclear weapons and “practice” loading them. During its 2009 military exercises, Russia also “practiced” a nuclear strike on Warsaw. Of course these are bluffs and threats, designed to make everyone nervous. But because there is a sliver of a chance that Putin is crazy enough to kill millions of people, they work.” Anne Applebaum, Slate
Pot Calling Kettle As America’s Standard Operating Procedure
Buried under all the Russia and Putin hysteria lies the raging institutional hypocrisy that masquerades as American exceptionalism. Though it’s undeniable (and completely understandable) that Russia would be willing to use nuclear weapons in the defense of her borders and sovereignty, it is the United States that has “officially” reserved the prerogative of a nuclear first strike. As former Assistant Treasury Secretary Dr. Paul Craig Robertsexplains:
“I pointed out years ago that the Bush regime had changed U.S. war doctrine such that the role of nuclear weapons was no longer retaliatory to be used in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States. It was elevated to a first strike position. It is now our war doctrine that we can initiate a nuclear war on somebody we don’t like, or who we think might not agree with us, or who we think might be prepared to go to war against us. This doctrine applies to countries that do not have nuclear weapons.”
Unfortunately for the vast majority who rely on the mainstream media for their information, this reality is relentlessly obfuscated with provocative rhetoric and disingenuous projection:
“It’s a curious reversal of roles: In the 1980s, the Soviet leadership was terrified that a cowboy in the White House—someone who was so nutty he made jokes about signing “legislation that will outlaw Russia forever”—might just flip a switch and send a missile. Nowadays, it’s we who fear the madmen in foreign capitals, while our own large nuclear arsenal goes unmentioned and unacknowledged by a Western political class that is frankly embarrassed that it still exists.” Anne Applebaum, Slate
Given the real motives and documented objectives of American foreign policy, it is exceedingly clear that Russia’s true crime is her all-too-real ability to defend herself in the world stage. How can American leaders accuse Russia of shameless nuclear intimidation when they openly advocate for the exclusive right of preemptive nuclear war–even against nations without nuclear weapons?
The Ugly American Syndrome, AKA American Exceptionalism
The idea of American exceptionalism is the foundation of our identities as Americans, regardless of our political orientation. As explained by CNN’s David Lake:
“Exceptionalism is a flashpoint in American politics today not because the claim is contested, but because conservatives and liberals hold differing views of what makes the United States exceptional. These differences are at the core of our current fights over foreign policy.”
The Neocon regime currently in power favors a particularly aggressive interpretation that asserts America’s status as the “indispensable nation”. This assumes the inherent superiority of Americans over all other peoples, andaffirms the primacy of American interests and values over the rest of the world’s.
In contrast, the progressive version of exceptionalism emphasizes the humanitarian aspect of American values, as described by Harvey J. Kaye:
“You know, there’s a democratic spirit inside almost all Americans. The democratic idea of American exceptionalism insisted that We the People can govern — that we don’t need kings and aristocrats — that we can govern ourselves. And that we can govern ourselves not only politically, but also that we can govern ourselves economically and culturally.”
In a nutshell, liberals and conservatives overwhelmingly agree that America is the bestest, most unique, and original country in the world–they just disagree on the details that make America so gosh darn better than everybody else. Implicit in the conservative-liberal consensus is the universally insulting presumption that goodness, democracy, freedom, and self determination are values that are somehow unique and natural only to Americans.
Adherence to this dangerous political religion is undoubtedly the root cause behind America’s deplorable track record of double standards and duplicitous double dealing with vassal states around the world. Because the United States considers itself as the special, exceptional, and indispensable nation, it alone reserves the right to defy international laws that all others must obey.
Unfortunately for the evangelists of American exceptionalism, the pretense of invincibility is crumbling as the tide turns towards an increasingly divergent multipolar reality. Russia’s spirited resistance is just the latest straw to drop on the brittle back of America’s empire–and should the Obama administration persist in overplaying their hand, it could very well prove to be the last.