Since its inception, the US government has perpetually perceived and advertised its role in conflict as that of a heroic rescuer or innocent victim upholding humanity and freedom in a fight against malicious, lying, evil persecutors.
Compassion for Ukrainians victimized by Russia’s violence demonstrates that human hearts care. However, beneath the visible current of compassion there’s an alarming, dangerous dynamic at play.
What’s hair-raising about the crisis is not only the violence, but the fact that US political leaders and media makers are not recognizing positive and negative motivations on both sides of conflict. Instead, they’re deliberately creating an inaccurate good vs. evil storyline—for potentially harmful reasons.
1. The Script: Evil Persecutor, Innocent Victim, Rescuing Hero
Since its inception, the US government has perpetually perceived and advertised its role in conflict as that of a heroic rescuer or innocent victim upholding humanity and freedom in a fight against malicious, lying, evil persecutors. Whether the US government’s enemies are Native Americans, the British, Confederates, Philippinos, Germans, Japanese, Communists, North Koreans, left-wing Latinos, or Mid-Eastern militants, Americans are forever supposed to be wound up with the fervent belief that enemies’ motives are cruel, their minds are unreasonable, their hearts are cold, and their bodies are better off dead. What’s more, because they’re so evil and dangerous, we’re supposed to think that punishing and killing them is the moral thing to do.
To perceive US violence as eternally moral, Americans are taught that US foreign policymakers wage war, topple foreign leaders, and impose sanctions only when necessary to resist grave threats to humanity, freedom, and civilization itself. This belief that a noble hero must use violence to rescue an innocent victim from an evil persecutor is what psychological analysts Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward called a “cultural script.”
But consider US history. A timeline of US wars against Native Americans covering the years 1776–1890 reveals only 30 years with no battles: 1796–1810, 1815–1816, 1819–1822, 1824–1826, 1828–1831, 1833–1834. A second timeline of US military conflicts and occupations, not including Native American wars, CIA violence, or US funding for proxy wars, reveals 20 years without violent military engagements: 1784–1785, 1788–1790, 1795–1797, 1811, 1826, 1828–1830, 1834, 1837, 1845, 1850, 1897, 1977, 1979. Combine these lists and you’ll see that in its 245-year history, a mere 10 years exist without violent US military conflicts: 1796–1797, 1826, 1828–1830, 1834, 1897, 1977, 1979.
What are the odds of a nation having a 245-year history with a military conflict in every year but 10, and taking part in every one of those conflicts purely on the defense as a heroic rescuer or an innocent victim? Examination of the actual events of these 245 years of US history reveals that the perception of always being a good guy fighting evil is fiction, a psychological construct. In truth, good and bad, truth and lies, invariably exist on both sides of conflict. When you see the evil persecutor, innocent victim, and heroic rescuer drama played out on the front pages of mainstream media and in our political leaders’ statements, it’s a tip-off that you’re not receiving comprehensive truth. You’re getting only half-truths, misleading statements, carefully framed perspectives, and probably quite a few lies.
To support the script that good is all on one side of conflict and evil on the other—thus justifying their hostility, US policymakers have had to perpetually twist and bend the truth beyond the snapping point. In fact, US policymakers’ pattern of relentlessly legitimating their violence, deadly sanctions, and foreign coups by denying the validity of enemy grievances, hiding their own greed and aggressive motives, refusing to cooperatively negotiate, concealing enemy negotiation offers, fabricating lies, omitting significant facts, using false pretexts, and overlooking the disastrous results of a pseudo-religious faith in the problem-solving magic of weapons is so predictable that it’s hard to decide whether it’s more enraging, pathetic, boring, or nauseating.
2. Brzezinski’s Baiting of the USSR
Consider one relevant conflict from forty years ago. The assigned roles in the drama: evil persecutor: USSR; innocent victim: Afghans; rescuing heroes: Afghan-Arab holy warriors, the mujahideen, armed and funded by the US, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and China. At the start of the drama in 1979, President Jimmy Carter, livid over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, claimed it was “the greatest threat to peace since the Second World War.” Incidentally, this alarmist remark, which ignores a great deal of history, is nearly identical to Biden’s remarks today. Actually, Afghanistan’s Marxist government, which had been trying to reform the extreme, unjust inequalities of wealth and land ownership in Afghanistan, had requested Soviet assistance against insurgents, but the USSR, the “evil persecutor,” didn’t want to send troops. When the Soviets finally complied, they explained it was because of secret US involvement in Afghanistan. The world called the Soviets liars.
Two decades later US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted that Carter had begun aiding the insurgent mujahideen—the “heroes”—six months prior to the entry of the persecutors, the Soviets. A delighted Brzezinski knew this could provoke the Soviets to invade and get mired in their own “Vietnam.” Convinced of Soviet evil and mujahideen goodness, US policymakers ignored that the mujahideen skinned Soviet POWs alive.
And now we’re told that US sanctions and weapons are needed to rescue Ukraine and Kiev’s “2.8 million innocent people,” as Biden referred to them, from Russia. Of course, we’re supposed to readily believe that, because we’re not supposed to think about Brzezinski and his little plot to ensnare the Soviets. We’re also not supposed to think about why US policymakers never try to make a situation less provoking, to ease the tension of conflict so that the enemy will feel less threatened and therefore be less threatening. Instead, US policymakers invariably respond by making a situation more provoking to put pressure on the enemy in order to use force to try to compel him to obey. It’s a rather stunted way of dealing with people, I’d say.
Notice that the US prefers to blithely ship off weapons to conflict-ridden nations, as it did to Afghanistan in 1979 and as it’s been doing to Ukraine since the start of its civil war in 2014. For what seems to be a mixture of greed and illogical reasons, the US seeks to exacerbate conflict and help one side, the so-called “good” side, win by killing off the other side, the side portrayed as “evil.” The idea of lessening conflict and helping both sides win by harmonizing and avoiding violence doesn’t seem to enter the minds of US policymakers. Perhaps the script gets in the way. But how will weapons resolve the roots of the conflicts? Won’t weapons merely escalate hatred, misunderstanding, and distrust? Incidentally, we’re not supposed to question why the weapon industry routinely contributes enormous funds to politicians’ campaigns and why those contributions aren’t called bribes.
3. Cold War Truth and Propaganda
We’re expected to sit back, relax, and let all information fall into the ruts of our minds shaped by decades of Cold War lies and propaganda. Imagine how furious John D. Rockefeller was in the 1880s when Russian oil drillers struck enormous deposits in Baku, on the Caspian Sea. Russia was able to sell oil to Europe at prices that undercut Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. Cruel, underhanded, ruthless to his competitors, and lethally negligent towards his employees, Rockefeller, who had a history of selling temporarily at low prices to put his competitors out of business, wanted that market. So Rockefeller, who had mercilessly swallowed up his American competitors, schemed to destroy Russian competition. He lowered prices for Europeans, raised prices for Americans, spread rumors questioning Russian oil’s safety, and barred cheaper Russian oil from US consumers. This pattern of telling lies, pursuing greed, and not really caring at all about foreigners or Americans is a pattern that eerily persists in US foreign policy. Of interest, Rockefeller, the son of a religious mother and swindling father, somehow managed to think of himself as virtuous.
Of course, we’re not supposed to question whether perhaps selfish economic rivalry was at the root of the Cold War. Even though the US government has befriended and installed numerous brutal tyrants worldwide, particularly in Latin America, we’re expected to be convinced that the Cold War was a US fight against brutal tyranny. In fact, we’re also supposed to think of the War against Terror as a fight against tyranny, even though a major provocation of terrorism is the tyranny of Mid-Eastern dictators, most of whom are strongly supported by the US government. And we’re certainly not supposed to learn about Islamism, whose leading theoretician, Sayyid Qutb, cherished Islam largely because in a truly Islamic state there would be true freedom from oppression, where no one is subjugated to another.
So we’re supposed to think that the Cold War was a fight of good vs. evil, not merely base economic rivalry, and not the result of capitalists’ frustrations that they couldn’t access the markets, resources, and profits of a Communist nation. Charles Conant’s influential 1896 theory set forth in his work, A History of Modern Banks of Issue, warned that US capitalism would collapse unless the US government worked closely with powerful banks and businesses to continually force open foreign markets and investment opportunities to increase profits. The US had already conquered the Native Americans of the mainland, but Conant’s theory helped drive US imperialism and conquest across the oceans in search of markets abroad, thus ushering in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War, a horrific war to subjugate Philippinos. Quotes of policymakers at the time clearly reveal their ultimate goal: they see the Philippines as the gateway to China’s resources and markets. And even before the creation of the CIA and its coups, the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell was helping corporations strongarm foreign nations to get the business deals they wanted abroad. The kleptocratic philosophy was then as it is today: government with its wealth of tax dollars exists to serve the corporation.
Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, which eventually purchased a stake in Baku’s oil fields, lost millions of dollars when Russia became Communist in 1918 and the Bolsheviks nationalized Baku’s oil business. Perhaps it comes as no surprise, then, that beginning that same year, US policymakers chose to dispatch 10,000 troops to invade the USSR and battle against the Bolshevik’s Red Army in the Soviet Union’s civil war. Once the USSR fell in 1991 and transformed back into non-Communist Russia, Azerbaijan, and several other independent nations with economies open to foreign investors and bankers, US businessmen and investors eagerly continued where Rockefeller had left off.
But forget all that! Media owner Henry Luce in the 1950s, owner of Life, Fortune, and Time, together with his close friends Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA Director Allen Dulles—both previously lawyers for Sullivan & Cromwell, helped indoctrinate millions of Americans with their fervent anti-Communist views and false convictions that Moscow was behind reform movements everywhere. Movements in Latin America, Asia, and Africa to help the poor, the landless, and the worker were really just fronts for the coming Soviet invasion! Consequently, Allen Dulles’ CIA put a stop to any reform leader who offered their people a brief window of hope for relief from poverty and injustice. Of course, had this director of intelligence actually spent more time developing his intelligence about the USSR and about reform movements worldwide, perhaps he would’ve learned that his theories were wrong before destroying the prospects and lives of so many people. But we’re not supposed to ponder over US appalling interference in foreign politics and elections worldwide, interference to the point of killing leaders and setting off decades of brutality under right-wing leaders, because that would make Russia’s alleged attempts to influence American voters in the US 2016 elections not seem that big of a deal at all. We’re supposed to believe that Russia is evil, Russians are inferior and worthy of being the brunt of jokes and insults, the Russian way of war is more diabolical than the American way, and the US government, even though it has interfered in multiple elections worldwide for decades, is always right and good-intentioned.
Most importantly, we’re to trust that the ludicrous, antagonizing, confrontational US approach of responding to conflict and fears with wars, weapon shipments, and sanctions actually isn’t ludicrous at all but is the rescuing hero’s key to nobly and fairly resolving international conflicts—even though such an approach doesn’t address a single cause of conflict. We’re supposed to juxtapose Josef Stalin’s horrific brutality and paranoia over every Russian action throughout time as proof of Russia’s evil. And we’re expected to let the memories of the US military’s ungodly behavior towards Native Americans and a variety of other nations quietly glide out of our minds. Don’t even read Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, or you’ll get the wrong impression about US government benevolence.
With regard to the current crisis, the US propaganda formula to push the script is simple. The first step is to teach Americans that Russians are brainwashed by propaganda, but Americans are not. Americans, if properly bred, will never guess how the mainstream media drastically limits the scope of discussion on any given topic in order to constrain our own brains, narrowly channels solutions into those already chosen by US policymakers, and omits the perspectives of an enormous range of people outside the social and business circles that have designated themselves to be our foreign policymakers and foreign policy commentators forever and always. Once Americans accept mainstream news as the truth, the rest is smooth sailing.
4. Russian Fears
The second step for pushing the script is to depict Russia as the persecutor with evil motives. That’s easy. Americans brains, already molded from decades of conditioning, are likely to be unquestioning and receptive. All that’s needed is for the US to utterly ignore or simply discount Russian fears as absurd: NATO’s expansion into Slavic lands, NATO—Ukraine military collaboration, US Lockheed Martin Aegis Ashore missile launchers deployed on bases in Poland and Romania, anti-Russian prejudice in Ukraine and the US, neo-Nazi paramilitary violence in Ukraine, the manipulation of Ukraine by Western profit-seekers collaborating with corrupt Ukrainian leaders, and Western economic and political conquest—likely of Russia itself.
Of course, past Russian fears were already disregarded decades ago. US history books condemn Russia for getting out of WWI in 1918 after the Bolshevik Revolution, and they characterize the USSR as evil for forging a pact with Hitler in 1939 at the start of WWII. Nothing is understood from the Russian point of view.
In fact, Russia/USSR was invaded in both World Wars, with more than 25 million killed. Russians had been involved in WWI from the start and were extremely war-weary and disgusted with wars, especially imperialist wars. The Brest-Litovsk Treaty to depart from the war was humiliating for Russia because it lost territory, but it had already lost more to death than any other nation. Instead of recognizing the wish to no longer engage in war as valid, the Allies perceived Russia as a traitor or even as pro-German.
The Allies did little if anything to help Russia/USSR during either war and, to my knowledge, made no attempt to rescue Russians when Leningrad (St. Petersburg) was besieged during WWII.  Ford, General Motors, Standard Oil of New Jersey, International Harvester, and du Pont all invested deeply in German weapons production during the Hitler era. John Foster Dulles had helped facilitate a system whereby US banks could profit enormously from the interest gained from loaning money to Germany so that Germany could pay back its WWI debts that its enemies had imposed upon it. Sullivan & Cromwell, the law firm for corporations who seek to control foreign policy, even helped foil a Canadian effort to block the sale of steel to Germany’s weapon makers. Understandably, the USSR felt utterly abandoned. The treaty with Hitler, which lasted only until Hitler’s invasion of the USSR, was a self-preservation measure.
Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers and Christopher Simpson’s The Splendid Blond Beast suggest that US policymakers such as John Foster Dulles and their social circles of elite, wealthy men from banks, law firms, and corporations felt more comfortable with a society in which the wealthy elite maintained social status, political power, and wealth at the top of the hierarchy. These men truly seemed to believe that society needed them to be on top in order to run society smoothly and intelligently. (They seem to think that way now, too.) They may have felt self-centered and greedy and/or they may have ignorantly and arrogantly felt that preserving their positions on top was the moral thing to do—for the sake of society.
It’s relevant to today’s dynamics amongst world political and business leaders to understand that part of what seemed to hold American and German bankers, lawyers, and businessmen together was their earnest desire to maintain the system of capitalism—perhaps for its own sake—but quite likely to ensure their continued status at the top of the political, economic, and social hierarchy. Bolshevik Communism was frightening not only because it could be violent, but because it threatened to overturn the hierarchy: workers would receive much greater power, wealth, and status.
The American and German elite, such as Jack P. Morgan Jr.—previously banker to Tsar Nicholas II, were convinced that removing elites from power would empower revolutionaries to seize power and spell the end for capitalism and their way of life on top of the hierarchy. In fact, Morgan was alive only because assassination attempts against him had failed. The Communist International (Comintern) had singled out bankers as the archenemies of the working class. Morgan hired “Wild Bill” Donovan to investigate the Comintern, and Donovan later became the head of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA. Morgan’s personal attorney, Elihu Root, became the honorary chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. It’s a small world amongst US policymakers, the CIA, lawyers, and bankers. When the elite hate Communism, destroying it becomes a foreign policy priority.
The capitalist vs. Communist Cold War conflict, rather than being a moral, humanitarian, or religious battle, really seems to have been more a battle over maintaining the wealth and power of the traditional power elite. Unfortunately, the brutal inhumanity of Stalin and Hitler seemed to be of lesser significance to policymakers than threats to the social status, political power, and wealth of those who were used to being on top. Some Allies even hoped that if they made a separate peace with Hitler, Hitler would keep fighting the USSR and slaughtering Russians. It’s therefore quite hypocritical that the Allies denounced the USSR for making a separate peace with Hitler at the beginning of the war.
Hitler’s severe anti-Communism tends to get muffled in the United States, perhaps because that might make us feel sorry for Communists, which is not what the US policymaker-businessman-banker-lawyer circle wants. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright describes Lord Halifax, Edward Wood, formerly the viceroy of India and a close associate of Prime Minister Chamberlain: “Like many of his social standing . . . Halifax measured politicians primarily by the intensity of their distaste for Bolshevism. In 1936, he visited Germany for the first time and pronounced Hitler’s regime—which had locked up every Communist it could find—‘fantastic.’”
In an effort to improve modern US-Soviet relations, singer and songwriter John Denver, whose feelings of friendship and sympathy evidently contrasted greatly with the attitudes of US policymaking circles, travelled to the USSR in 1985 and visited Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery in which 470,000 Russians are buried who died during the 872-day siege of Leningrad primarily inflicted by Germans but with the help of Finns. It was the longest and most destructive siege in history. 630,000 Russians died from starvation.
While the siege was devastating to the USSR, it’s rarely heard about in the United States. Americans never hear about the Diary of Tanya Savicheva, only the Diary of Anne Frank. West of the Leningrad-Moscow line, destruction from the Nazi invaders was nearly total with most homes, factories, bridges, waterways, dams, canals, barns, sheds, and wells destroyed, ruined, or poisoned. But Russian pain, suffering, and fears are always muted in the US press and in US policymaker minds, because such emotions shine a dangerous glimmer of thought in the American mind that Russia may, after all, not be evil.
Clearly, Russia has had to fend for itself, but US policymakers never seem to grasp Russia’s need for friendly neighbors. Following WWII, NATO was created to militarily combat the USSR. The Marshall Plan, proudly described as an indicator of US generosity, was established to contain Communism, but perhaps even more, it enabled the US to economically outrival the USSR—just as Rockefeller wanted to 60 years earlier—and economically dominate Europe through promotion of the US “Open Door” policy which boosted US business profits and access to markets in Europe. The USSR was also desperately in need of a loan, but the US refused to give it any loans unless it first agreed to join the US-dominated World Bank, an institution now infamous for imposing intrusive conditional requirements upon borrowers. The USSR refused to join.
Marshall Plan aid was opportunistically tied to the purchase of US agricultural products, and the program also helped the US policymaker-businessmen-banker circle by creating an international order based on the dollar. The authors of the Marshall Plan, State Department official George Kennan and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal (formerly a board member of the Chase Securities Corporation associated with Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank and former president of the investment banking firm of Dillon, Read & Co.), with CIA Director Allen Dulles as a consultant, created a secret system enabling the CIA to skim millions of dollars from the plan as a constant source of untraceable cash. Each nation that received Marshall Plan aid had to set aside an equivalent sum, and five percent of those funds were given to the CIA through the plan’s overseas offices.
If there is still any lingering admiration for US generosity associated with the Marshall Plan, note the words of its author, George Kennan, in a 1948 memorandum:
We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real test in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world beneficiaries—unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization.
Following the reunification of Germany, NATO callously expanded to include former Soviet republics and satellites, leaving Russia even more isolated. As William Hartung reports in Prophets of War, NATO’s expansion was also prodded by US weapon corporations who were eager to meet company export goals and sell weapons to new NATO members who’d be required to discard Soviet weaponry. Lockheed Martin even promised Romania it would argue on its behalf for NATO membership if Romania agreed to purchase Lockheed Martin weaponry.
Putin has repeatedly warned that NATO’s expansion is an existential threat to Russia, a military threat to its very survival. US leaders, the same leaders who quake in their boots over a coronavirus that has only mild symptoms for more than eighty percent of the people, the same leaders who call Russia’s alleged interference in US elections an “existential threat,” laugh at Putin’s fear as unhinged. How could anyone, they wonder, be afraid that NATO might attack them?
That’s easy to say if you’re not the nation for whom NATO was created to attack. But with NATO bases in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania, with US missile launchers in Poland and Romania, and with US nuclear warheads in Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy for NATO’s use, Putin’s fear is valid. Put yourself in Russia’s shoes. NATO’s expansion into former Soviet republics is like taking away your family, friends, and neighbors, then training them and arming them against you in case you get aggressive, which you just might do because they’ve taken away your family, friends, and neighbors and turned them against you.
Or, put another way, would the US approve if the American Southwest seceded, militarily allied itself with Mexico, and deployed missile launchers in Texas? Would the US be pleased that the illegal immigrants at the border were no longer an issue? Or would the US government turn purple with rage at the very thought of losing territory it seized from Mexico in 1848? It’s as if nobody’s feelings matter but those of US policymakers, for Putin’s words have been repeatedly ignored. No wonder some people, including terrorists, have said that violence is the only language the US government understands. US policymakers, as talented as they may be in some ways, seem to possess a below-average degree of empathy. They don’t seem to understand others’ feelings or hear the significance of their words.
The one way to get US policymakers’ attention is with violence. Once an enemy gets violent, then US policymakers respond—but not by addressing their grievances. Never! At that point, US policymakers respond with punishment. Then, acting like a snippy, tight-lipped parent, they proclaim they won’t communicate or negotiate with the enemy because that would be considered a “reward” to the enemy for his violence and thus encourage enemy violence—even though it was the US government’s failure to remedy injustice and grievances that encouraged the violence to begin with, and even though the US government has no qualms about being the world’s Number One Weapon Salesman and inflicting its own violence around the world.
So US policymakers are basically saying: “We didn’t listen to you before when you were non-violent, and we certainly won’t listen to you now because you’ve been violent. The truth is, we’ll never listen to you because we don’t care about you.” It’s very much like a parent who never listens to its child and then, when the child acts up out of frustration, coldly punishes the child for not being obedient. Is it possible our policymaker circles were raised in a similar manner? Is this how they learned this type of human relations? Or did they learn it from each other as they conformed to stark foreign policy traditions?
Another Russian fear is neo-Nazism, but Putin’s accusation that Ukraine’s government includes neo-Nazis is brushed aside as absurd and simple-mindedly “proven” false by the mere fact that Ukrainian President Zelenskiy is Jewish. The fact that Hitler annihilated millions of non-Jewish Slavs, Communists, and socialists doesn’t seem to enter into this strange logic. However, if the Ukrainian president is Jewish, this is supposed to prove that the entire government does not include or support neo-Nazis.
Despite the enormous intellectual depth of this bizarre American logic, human rights groups have condemned Ukraine’s rising neo-Nazi paramilitary violence, including attacks on feminists. Neo-Nazis are even active in Ukraine’s military and police, helping to give their violence impunity in the streets. As Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies of Code Pink explain, the extreme right-wing Svoboda (Freedom) Party played a major role in Ukraine’s 2014 coup. And the peaceful protests against the administration of President Viktor Yanukovich turned into violence, thanks to the armed behavior of the extreme right-wing Right Sector. While there is some disagreement about whether or not neo-Nazism is a part of the Svoboda Party and Right Sector, these groups seem to be a blend of ultra-nationalism, neo-Nazism, and fervent anti-Communism. At the very least, we can agree that they’re clearly not representative of the broad spectrum of views within the Ukrainian population, and therefore their political domination could not be considered democratic, let alone peace-oriented. Right Sector attacked anti-coup protestors and riot police and seemed intent on ridding the country of pro-Russian protestors. Once Yanukovich was ousted, Arseniy Yatsenyuk was installed. Yatsenyuk then rewarded the Svoboda Party with three high-level positions in the new government. Meanwhile, the neo-Nazi unit Azov Battalion helped attack Donetsk and Lugansk, and Ukraine’s civil war began.
Perhaps US policymakers trivialize Putin’s fear of neo-Nazi violence because the US government is all too comfortable working closely with both Nazis and neo-Nazis. Following WWII, the US government seemed to quickly change sides and employed thousands of Nazis for espionage against the USSR. Similarly, the UK made an about-face in Greece and turned upon the very Communists that had been largely responsible for resisting the horrific, cruel Nazi occupation of Greece. No sooner had the Nazis left when the British arrived. The Greeks thought they were liberated until the UK grew alarmed that Communists—people who called for such wild and obnoxious conditions as an eight-hour day, better salaries for workers, and labor unions—would prevent Greece from having a king duly subservient to the UK. Consequently, UK forces delivered the democratically-minded Communists into the hands of former Nazi collaborators for torture and execution in a massively deadly campaign known as the White Terror. US President Truman, perceiving the world as good vs. evil and possessed by a violent sense of moral mission, soon issued his Truman Doctrine and funded the corrupt Greek regime in its civil war against Greek Communists.
Even in 1973, the US was collaborating with brutal pro-Nazis during the CIA’s 9/11 coup against Chile’s left-wing Salvador Allende. Pro-Nazis helped ensure a horrid aftermath for tens of thousands of Chileans. So in 2014, it’s not surprising that Russian news sources reported that US private military contractors were training right-wing Ukrainian extremists. If true, perhaps this is why the US government has never bothered sending troops. The use of private military corporations enables the US government to get involved violently but out of the public eye.
Once all of Russia’s fears of NATO, neo-Nazis, and so forth are flippantly dismissed by US policymakers and media makers as nonsense, it’s supposed to become clear to Americans that Russia is consequently not acting out of reasonable fear, but instead out of evil malice and aggression. In fact, we’re to believe that Putin is a bully who wants to resurrect the Russian Empire! The European Union, YouTube, and several others are even blocking access to Russia’s state-run news, Russia Today and Sputnik, so that Americans can’t hear Russia’s government speak for itself. According to the EU, it’s so that no one can hear Russia’s lies about the conflict. But from the relatively small number of articles I’ve read on Russia Today, I think it’s very well written, balanced, and informative. Quite frankly, it doesn’t reek of propaganda the way the US mainstream news does. But this is another trademark of US and other Western policymakers: don’t communicate with the enemy, don’t listen to their perspective, just go after them. Do everything you can to avoid understanding. And for God’s sake, uphold belief in the script!
5. US Greed and Biases of the Policymaker Breed
The third step in the formula to secure belief in the script is to paint the US as a heroic rescuer. Simple! Greed-related, kleptocratic motives for antagonizing Russia are carefully and methodically ignored: colossal profits made by US weapon corporations and their high-salaried CEOs, NATO’s agenda for naval bases, the Black Sea, and beyond, IMF goals for austerity budgets so that Ukrainians can deprive themselves of money to pay back rich creditors, ExxonMobil’s coveting massive Black Sea fossil fuel deposits, and Biden family connections with the board of Ukraine’s largest private natural gas corporation—Burisma Holdings Ltd. Despite the highly suspicious nature of all of these factors, they’re off the table for mainstream news discussion.
Also hushed up are US hopes to dominate the global energy trade, maintain the dollar as the international energy trade currency, retain all accompanying political benefits of dollar hegemony—including sanction power, displace Russia from Europe’s gas market (so Rockefeller can finally rest in peace), and shut down Nord Stream 2. In fact, closing down Nord Stream 2 is cleverly framed as a punitive, disciplinarian reaction to Russia’s invasion rather than an ulterior US goal to drive Russia out of Europe’s market.
Lastly, the media ignores the unrelenting US government–business push to export unpopular fracked liquefied natural gas to Europe via Ukraine. Although former US Secretary of Energy and former Texas Governor Rick Perry had been eagerly pushing to sell fracked LNG to Zelenskiy to help out the companies of friends and political donors in Texas and Louisiana, the issue of sending LNG to Europe is framed, naturally, as a rescue mission, to rescue innocent Europe from evil Russia—not a Texan profit-making bonanza at all! LNG companies are excited that the US has become the world’s largest exporter of LNG, a product once spurned by Europe because of its methane-leaking properties but now eagerly consumed, thanks to propelling Russia out of the European market. But again, not one speck of greed or acquisitiveness can be displayed, or it would detract from the rescuing hero image.
To believe in the script as truth and really see the US as a noble hero, we’ve also got to ignore the biases and aims of groups such as the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG)—which has Russian business acquisition interests, and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). ASD, an initiative of the German Marshall Fund of the US, has the precise mission of opposing and defeating Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, supposedly for being an authoritarian aggressively seeking to oppose democracy. One wonders whether these business-oriented Americans are actually more angered over Putin’s re-nationalization of parts of the Russian economy, including the banking and energy sectors, and their possibly reduced access to Russian markets under his leadership, in contrast to the time following the USSR’s dissolution in 1991 under President Boris Yeltsin when Russians and Americans were making windfalls at the expense of the Russian people who fell into poverty.
On the advisory board of ASD are people with a certain frame of mind found only amongst certain Americans who are unrepresentative of the American population—or at least unrepresentative of the un-indoctrinated American mind. It’s worth examining these individuals because their minds are a big reason why the US is responding to the current conflict the way it is. Advisors include a mix of neoconservatives and liberal hawks, a marriage that transpired during the Trump administration, when neoconservatives left the Republican Party and joined ranks with Hillary Clinton. It was probably an easy marriage. After all, they seem to agree about the importance of using government to intervene abroad in order to make money for corporations, which they apparently mistake for the concept of democracy.
Advisors include William Kristol, co-founder of the now defunct neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC), infamous for its unequivocal goals of enlarging the military budget to achieve great conquests abroad and to be capable of fighting in two “theatres” of wars at once, as proclaimed shamelessly in “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” (2000). And you can bet they imagine themselves as rescuing heroes in those theatres. ASD advisors also include Mike Chertoff, co-author of the infamous US PATRIOT Act and former Secretary of Homeland Security, as well as Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA and a defender of drone warfare, who has been called a torture apologist with regard to the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
In an absurd claim, Morell stated that Russia’s alleged attempt to use social media to influence Americans in US elections was the political equivalent of 9/11. One can only wonder what could be the political equivalent of the CIA’s enormous psychological and propaganda efforts to wildly interfere in political elections abroad, as documented in works such as William Blum’s Killing Hope. And what is the political equivalent of the US government’s multiple coups since at least 1953, when the CIA, with the assistance of Kermit Roosevelt Jr., toppled Iran’s popular Mohammed Mossadeq, killing 500 Iranians in the process? T
he CIA, along with the Agency for International Development and the National Endowment for “Democracy” (NED) have grossly and illegally interfered in the affairs of foreign nations and subverted foreign societies through coups and pre-coup planting of false propaganda, riot instigation, character assassination, bribery, campaign funding, and economic sabotage. The CIA has agents or ownership of media outlets worldwide. It’s created fake left-wing organizations abroad to attract people’s energy, time, and money away from real left-wing organizations aiming for reform. All of these operations interfere grossly with the freedom, wealth, and political sovereignty of foreign nations and their populations. Why so much fuss about the alleged Russian interference when there are no public hearings or charges for decades of US interference in multiple nations abroad?
Getting back to ASD, also serving on its board—or, at least, said to be serving in 2017 when it was founded—are Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, whose statements in a 2019 interview about the special qualities of Americans indicate he’s a supporter of US exceptionalism and intervention even though he feels he’s being modest by recognizing US flaws. Sullivan, who also served under Biden in the Obama administration during the 2014 coup, seems to excuse American intervention and mistakes abroad because at least Americans have positive “aspirations,” a characteristic he strangely finds unique to Americans. Of course, as the title of Blum’s book suggests, Killing Hope, probably many people worldwide have lost hope and aspirations because so many promising leaders are gunned down by the CIA and all conflicts are escalated by US weapons delivered to the scene. However, even if Americans have positive aspirations and no one else does anymore, one would think that good intentions aren’t good enough in foreign policy: a nation that makes so many lethal mistakes should be humble enough to learn to keep its hands to itself and not meddle in other nations.
Another mystery is Sullivan’s claim that the US is uniquely a land of problem-solvers. How is this possible? Is he ignoring the destruction the US has wreaked upon so many nations in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America? Most Americans can’t even speak another language. Craig Whitlock’s The Afghanistan Papers reveals that US policymakers didn’t know what they were doing for twenty years in Afghanistan. But we’re to believe Americans can help foreigners solve problems?
Sullivan also makes the ludicrous claim, despite every conflict in which it has engaged, that the US does not believe in zero-sum conflicts where one nation can gain only at the expense of the other. So should the US return the American Southwest to Mexico to prove that the US didn’t gain at Mexico’s loss? Should the US try not to steer Russia out of Europe’s gas market so that US companies won’t win at Russia’s expense? Should the US stop committing coups so that their favorite leader doesn’t win at the expense of another?
According to Sullivan, the United States supposedly doesn’t believe that “a dog-eat-dog world’s O.K., as long as you’re the biggest dog.” Yet the US has been bossing the world around precisely because it is the biggest dog with the biggest military, with dollar hegemony, and with the greatest power at the IMF and World Bank! Why else would it refuse to join the International Criminal Court unless it receives veto power? Why else did it create the rules so that it’s the only nation with veto power at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank? It wants to be the biggest dog with the most power!
Sullivan even feels Americans are special because of our beliefs in human rights and feelings of interconnectedness. How on Earth can he make this claim about a nation that shows an absence of empathy for anyone but itself (and, of course, victims of Russian violence) and destroys all human rights with its invasions, torture, detentions, kidnappings, and drone-style executions? The US War on Terror has killed more than 800,000 Mid-Easterners. How does this demonstrate one speck of feeling interconnectedness, one whit of respect for human rights? Has Sullivan even conversed with Iraqi and Afghan survivors of the US invasions and torture prisons?
In listening to Sullivan’s claims about the US, his words offer a clue into the mindset of these policymakers: either they’re lying through their teeth or there’s an alarming disconnect between what they’re thinking and what they’re doing. Their words don’t match reality. They’re absolutely blind to the horrors they’re inflicting.
It is extremely dangerous that US policymakers create colossal amounts of violence, despair, and destruction abroad yet remain convinced that they should continue to interfere abroad because of their alleged but M.I.A. problem-solving skills, benevolence, fairness towards little dogs, respect for human rights, interconnectedness, and positive aspirations. Are State Department and Defense Department policymakers just looking for something to fill their time and justify their organizations’ existence and personal paychecks and so they become great busybodies abroad? It would be helpful for these policymakers to get into discussion with other types of people so that they could break through the weaknesses of their insularity, gain insight from other people’s various strengths, and totally revamp their organizational missions. Otherwise, the nation and world would be better off if these people received their paychecks and sat at their desks doing nothing than to continue doing what they’re doing now.
The third organization mentioned above is the Center for a New American Security, which was formerly led by President Biden’s Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, who also has advised Albright Stonebridge Group, and who is now Biden’s Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs. Nuland’s husband is Robert Kagan, the other co-founder of the similarly-sounding neoconservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC). Nuland is infamous for the leaked tape from 2014 in which she and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, appear to be deciding who should become the new leader of Ukraine.
What’s interesting is that this conversation takes place even before Yanukovich is ousted, which suggests that they know he’s going to be ousted. The confidence with which these two Americans appear to be selecting a leader for the Ukrainian population is both arrogant and undemocratic, and it suggests that they not only are choosing Ukraine’s next leader, but they’re perhaps playing a role in getting rid of Yanukovich. From what I’ve read of the tape’s excerpts, none of this is proven by the tape, but the CIA and NED do have a lengthy history of doing this very thing—arousing protests that lead to violence and then a coup.
Unfortunately, this is probably how certain Americans decide for the rest of us in our “democratic nation” who the top candidates of the two twin dominant parties will be. It might as well have been the same person for two hundred years. The policies don’t significantly change. What’s the big deal about having presidential and congressional term limits when the same ideology—that government exists to serve the wallets of certain social and business circles, that enemies are to be confronted with weapons—churns out year after year? At any rate, Russia was suspected of recording and leaking the Nuland tape, and instead of convicting, criticizing, or even questioning US policymakers for their potentially illegal, undemocratic interference in Ukraine’s internal political affairs, it was Russia that was blamed and accused of “sinking to a new low” for having released the tape and exposed US crimes. So it’s not the crime that’s the crime, it’s exposing the crime that’s the crime!
But then there’s this falseness going on in public statements to the American public. On Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman quotes President Barack Obama stating, “Our approach as the United States is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia. Our goal is to make sure that the people of Ukraine are able to make decisions for themselves about their future. . . without having bombs going off. . . or towns being starved, because a despot wants to cling to power.” It’s a nice statement, but like Sullivan’s ideas, there’s a disconnect between what’s being said and what’s being done. A coup, especially a US-supported coup, but even a non-US-supported coup that’s powered by extreme right-wing violence, is not the equivalent of the entire Ukrainian population having a voice in making the decisions. The Ukrainian population includes left-wingers, right-wingers, the apolitical, large populations of both ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians, the poor, middle-class, wealthy, and the corrupt. Whether you’re Obama, Biden, or Putin, you can’t support only a part of this and say you’re supporting all Ukrainians’ right to decide their future.
Moreover, the US is in direct competition with Russia over Ukraine—politically, economically, and militarily. The US government doesn’t want to make it look that way because then it doesn’t seem so heroic, it seems more like a selfish power that’s opportunistically supporting those Ukrainians, likely those corrupt Ukrainians, who help special US business and social circles. Instead, the US wants to make it look like it’s standing up for the right of the people of Ukraine to enjoy democracy and decide their future for themselves.
But Putin says the exact same thing, only when he says it, US policymakers and media makers either ignore it or deny his honesty, and when Obama says it, we’re supposed to trust his words, even though he seems to have supported a coup of a democratically-elected leader, even though Nuland and Pyatt seem to be picking Ukraine’s next leader, and even though the US and NATO are arming one side of the conflict with billions in weapons.
How can arming one side of a conflict in a Ukrainian civil war be representative of all Ukrainians? US policymakers claim that those fighting in Donetsk and Lugansk are not really Ukrainians, they’re Russian props, they’re unrepresentative, they’re rotten people—the evil persecutor. But this is false! A large portion of those living in these two republics would rather be a part of Russia. Yanukovich himself, the ousted president, is from Donetsk. Another large portion would just as soon be with Ukraine. Probably nearly all of them don’t think the matter is important enough to warrant violence—and this is the giant group that repeatedly lacks a voice in war and in the barbaric, profit-motivated US policies of weapon shipments.
Nuland’s group, CNAS, is funded by a variety of donors but mainly by weapon corporations, including Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell International, Raytheon, BAE, Boeing, and General Atomics’ CEO, as well as the US Department of Defense, the European Union, ExxonMobil, Visa, and the Defense Ministries of Estonia, Norway, Finland, and the UK. It’s also funded by high-tech companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Intel. Silicon Valley companies have become increasingly involved with the Defense Department’s use of artificial intelligence and image recognition in drone warfare, the death-out-of-the-blue-warfare that has deprived certain nations of peace-of-mind forever.
So in other words, the woman that was CEO of an organization highly sensitive to the goals of weapon corporations, the Defense Department, and ExxonMobil is now directing foreign policy, particularly in Ukraine. But we, of course, are either to assume that her judgment is not swayed by those interests, or we’re to assume that it’s only right for foreign policy to be swayed by those interests. Above all, we’re not supposed to wonder whether anything might be wrong in allowing those interests to shape foreign policy.
In fact, many of Biden’s administration members belong to ASD, ASG, and CNAS, and the severe problem is that these people all seem to be of the same breed. It’s not that this breed is inferior or superior, so my comment is not meant to sound cruel. But the problem is: their minds are like one. What exactly is the benefit of democracy if only certain mentalities are allowed to rule? With identical minds and vision come identical blind spots, similar strengths, and similar weaknesses. The astonishing degree of insularity within the breed has been a problem with US foreign policymakers for more than a century, with US presidents and numerous high officials typically closely connected with either the Rockefeller or the Morgan family of interests, or both. In fact, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and JP Morgan Chase & Co. are also major donors to CNAS.
The social/mental “inbreeding” of sorts is made even worse by the revolving door between government, corporations, banks, law firms, consulting firms, and the military. Policymakers likely believe that the various interests are dovetailing splendidly with foreign policy and working well together, but actually, government policy is submerged and distorted in order to serve the biases and financial interests of these social circles. Without this lethal submersion powered by money-oriented and control-oriented minds, it’s likely that we could’ve experienced US foreign policy that was actually peaceful and just.
Instead, the US Department of State is merely a non-weaponized form of the US Department of Defense. If you look at the Department of State’s website, it’s shocking to see that the department’s mission and all its bureaus’ missions are essentially to convince foreigners to like, support, and serve US interests, which, of course, means the interests only of those very special social and business circles on top. But what’s disturbing is that the State Department mission is not to increase understanding of foreigners’ perspectives in order to be better friends, in order to create policies that are kinder and more helpful to them, and in order to prevent conflict. The mission is to get others to understand and support the US! It’s like a giant cult!
No wonder Americans aren’t encouraged to study let alone master many or any foreign languages: it’s everyone else who’s expected to learn English! After all, Americans don’t really need to know what anyone else is saying. It’s the others who have to listen and obey US officials. No wonder US “diplomats” think of “diplomacy” not as the development of mutual empathy, understanding, cooperation, and integrative negotiation, but as gaining “leverage” over others, killing and bombing foreigners to make them acquiesce, using power-based negotiation of intimidation and economic and physical threats, and applying pressured forms of elbow-twisting and bribes.
It’s disgusting. I’d hate to grow up in a household like that, where the kids just have to shut up, listen to what they’re told, and obey. To think when I was little I thought a diplomat was a wonderful, caring person who created harmony based on mutual understanding and genuine caring. I think we should stop the planet so that many of us can disembark and go our own way. This is too upsetting to even think about. And the US is supposed to be so smart! A superpower! How disappointing. Again, it is important to get different types into policymaking or at least for policymakers to have discussions with a wider variety of people, because, if you’re outside the foreign policymaking establishment, it’s quite obvious how obsessive, narrow, and misguided they are in their addiction to a certain hostile, control-oriented approach to human and international relations.
The characteristics of the US foreign policymaker circle have been the same for a few centuries: considering enemies to be worthy of death, having below-average levels of empathy in comprehending enemies’ perspectives, below-average levels in abilities to conduct cooperative, egalitarian negotiations, below-average levels in abilities to communicate with so-called enemies, enthusiasm for developing and selling weapons, enthusiasm for inflicting punishment and threats as the primary means of controlling so-called enemies, and enthusiasm for applying pressured forms of “diplomacy” or violence to gain profits from foreign resources, labor, and markets to benefit those certain special US social and business circles who just so happen to control our foreign policy.
Besides weapon-oriented, control-oriented, money-oriented, and high-society-oriented biases, ethnic biases also probably exist within the administration, considering the Ukrainian-Jewish background of Nuland, the Lithuanian-Jewish background of her husband, Kagan, even though he’s not directly in the administration, and the Polish background of Brzezinski’s son, who is Biden’s Ambassador to Poland. The danger with all this is that these ethnic biases could prevent us from ever understanding Russia’s point of view.
6. Shallow Analysis
Once Russian fears are discounted and US greed and biases are ignored, to make the script of persecutor, victim, and hero even more believable, only shallow analysis is permitted. For example, how do we know that Russia wasn’t deliberately provoked so that the ulterior goals of certain special American social and business circles could be advanced under the guise of nobly responding to Russia’s aggression? Isn’t it possible that the reason US policymakers predicted Putin would use the civil war as a reason for invasion was because they were, in fact, deliberately baiting him? The topic isn’t allowed on the table for discussion.
Seemingly fair-minded, Biden proclaims each nation’s right to choose alliances. But Nuland’s leaked tapes from 2014 (which, incidentally, mention Biden and Sullivan as fellow players) and a shameful record of instigating multiple coups worldwide indicate that Americans were likely involved in promoting the bloody 2014 coup of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Yanukovich to install anti-Russian leadership agreeable to European Union and NATO ties. So do Biden’s words apply to nations before a US-approved coup or only afterwards? That question is also forbidden in mainstream media discussion. We’re to assume that Biden would have been perfectly happy with Yanukovich’s wish to establish an alliance with Russia instead of with the EU and NATO. There just happened to be a coup that got rid of him, thus preventing those alliances.
Biden, sounding so cooperative, offers to negotiate, but with Russia’s reasonable fears of NATO already ignored for years and then dismissed as paranoid, what offers could Biden possibly be suggesting? Again, we’re not supposed to wonder about that. We’re just supposed to think of Biden as a cooperative, peaceful man who’s eager to negotiate. We’re also supposed to assume that Russia has not been interested in negotiation, even though it has, even though it has complained about Ukraine’s failure to negotiate with Donetsk and Lugansk and Ukraine’s decision to instead respond to the republics’ leaders as “terrorists,” the cool new word to magnetically attract US policymaker support, funds, and weapons.
According to Putin, Ukraine signed the Minsk Agreements in 2015, but it then refused to comply with the terms and negotiate with the republics. Putin has repeatedly emphasized that both sides must comply with the agreement. As al-Jazeera describes, Ukraine and Russia each saw the other as the stubborn, uncooperative obstacle who refused to the terms of the Minsk Agreement because they each had different notions about which terms should logically be fulfilled first. US and NATO also were stubborn in outright rejecting Putin’s demand that Ukraine never join NATO, even though agreeing to the demand could have helped prevent war and death.
US policymakers accuse Russia of not recognizing Ukraine’s sovereignty, but, with the US promoting coups, US businessmen such as Rick Perry and (former) Blackwater’s Erik Prince seeking deals with Zelenskiy, and US mercenaries and weapon companies stoking conflict—all, presumably, without the Ukrainian population’s permission—what sovereignty is there left to respect? Shouldn’t we have a conversation about what it means to be sovereign?
Is sovereignty violated only if a nation physically invades it? Or does a nation also lose sovereignty when its own population has less influence over its government than US businessmen, the US government, and the US military? Isn’t this a little fact that caused major problems on 9/11 and in the Middle East, where people, such as the Egyptian 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta, have been enraged at their government’s subservience to US business and political interests at the expense of the people? Bush Jr. described the US War on Terror as a war against tyranny. Yet it was precisely US-supported tyranny in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and beyond that significantly provoked the nineteen 9/11 terrorists from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. It’s a matter worth resolving.
For that matter, are Americans sovereign? Do we really have any meaningful influence over our own government? We certainly have zero voice in foreign policy. We’re told billions of our tax dollars must go towards policies in Afghanistan and Iraq to kill people. Then we’re told that billions of our tax dollars must go towards policies with Ukraine to save people. We have no say. We’re entirely excluded from the social and business circles who keep themselves in power.
The US prides itself on spreading democracy abroad, but it seems the US likes to spread the disfigured form of democracy that exists here: government of the people, by privileged social and business circles, for privileged social and business circles. I guess that’s what is meant by the term “liberal international order”—the order US policymakers claim is at stake in this Ukraine crisis and must be preserved. It’s not democracy the US wants to preserve. The US helped destroy that with the coup. It’s capitalist-plutocracy and kleptocracy that’s at stake.
What seems to terrify US policymakers is that people in other nations, including some of the terrorists they’re killing, are looking for a very different kind of democracy, one that is of the people, by the people, for the people. However, while the US government’s allegiance to democracy really seems to be an allegiance to plutocracy, this wish for true democracy, representation, and voice also seems anathema to Putin. According to the International Federation of Human Rights, Russia, under Putin’s rule, passed about fifty antidemocratic laws in the years 2012–2018. Policies under Putin have ignored human rights, cracked down on individual political and religious freedoms, forbidden Russians from thinking inappropriately about Russian history, forbidden Russians from questioning the integrity of Russia, forbidden Russians from protesting peacefully, increased censorship, increased state ownership of media, increased surveillance, and increased and centralized the power of the executive at the cost of losing power in other branches of government as well as at other levels of government.
That all may be true, but it’s a joke if we’re expected to believe that US policymakers dislike Putin because he’s authoritarian. What about Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi? The US helped anti-Morsi supporters get rid of Morsi, Egypt’s first-ever democratically elected president, and now US policymakers support al-Sisi, who’s said to be even worse with regard to human rights than Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak—like Mubarak on steroids. He’s had hundreds of Egyptians killed and imprisoned tens of thousands of political prisoners.
Did Biden do anything to try to convince al-Sisi to respect human rights? Oh, sure, he bypassed Congress’ wish to hold $300 million in funding conditional upon al-Sisi’s improved human rights record. Biden changed the amount to only $130 million. Then the US boldly requested that al-Sisi, who has killed hundreds and imprisoned tens of thousands, release a grand total of sixteen prisoners. Woah! Isn’t that a bit too much to ask? But al-Sisi didn’t do it. So Biden, the moral figure that he is, withheld the $130 million—but only after approving $2.5 billion in arms sales to Egypt a few days earlier. So al-Sisi, who sounds like a monster compared to Putin, gets a little slap on the wrist. It was the same story throughout the Cold War. The US government supported extremely brutal, undemocratic leaders who killed tens of thousands of people. It’s not democracy it cares about. It’s business deals and political favors.
I’ll never believe the US government actually cares if Putin is authoritarian or not. Nonetheless, perhaps the US and Russian governments could work together in making themselves more democratic. Or, perhaps instead of an arms race, they could have a democracy race. For example, will the US ever hold national elections that are actually meaningful? That offer us a significant choice and at least two acceptable candidates who stand a likely chance of winning and who are not representatives of that money-oriented, control-oriented, weapon-enthusiast, high-society-oriented social circle? Will campaign contributions ever be forbidden and public campaign financing become the rule? Will money ever stop controlling politics and policy?
Will we ever have a voice in foreign policy? Will torture cease? Will mainstream media stop being a microphone for the US government and its favorite social and business circles? Will school history books ever point out alternatives to war or will they always interpret US history as benevolent? Will the US president ever cease to have the unconstitutional, illegal power to initiate nuclear war? Will the legislature ever gain back its war-making powers from the president? Will high officials be held accountable for crimes? With the central government ever give up more of its powers to the states and the people? Will we forever be taxed for military budgets now up to three-quarters of a million dollars that shape foreign policy for which we have no voice?
And will Putin allow Russians to speak freely without fear of punishment? To peacefully protest without fear of losing their job or being expelled from college? Will they be able to own their own media? Will individual Russians be able to write about Russian history and interpret it as they think best? Will torture cease? Will political opponents of Putin be allowed to live healthfully and freely and run for high office? Will checks and balances return to power?
But what was the ulterior motive or fear driving the anti-democratic policies? This is important to understand in order to resolve the problem. Perhaps the motives are selfishness, corruption, and power-hunger, or a habit of control from working with the KGB. But, without forgetting or downplaying those possible motives, we must also ask: Is there a fear of unfriendly infiltration by the CIA and National Endowment for Democracy? Or a fear of violent opposition? Media stations were quickly grabbed up by rich oligarchs in the 1990s. Does Putin fear political maneuvers over the media by rivals, or rivals bribed by the CIA and NED?
Certainly, leaders around the world have reason to be afraid of US-sponsored coups, and this fear could be enough to encourage repression in a nation in order to stay alive and in power. Perhaps if US presidents were routinely being ousted and killed, they, too, would become more repressive. It’s unfortunate that US policymakers don’t take into consideration the effect on psychology and oppression of these coups and bribes.
Perhaps the most damaging example of shallow analysis with regard to the Ukraine crisis is the horrendous interpretation US policymakers, commentators, media makers, and websites such as Wikipedia give to Putin’s July 2021 essay, “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.”
What comes across quite strongly in this essay is Putin’s despair that Ukraine, step-by-step, has developed unwarranted hateful anti-Russian attitudes and policies which are also connected with a severing of economic ties to Russia. Putin writes, “I recall that long ago, well before 2014, the US and EU systematically and consistently pushed Ukraine to curtail and limit economic cooperation with Russia.” (Remember, Biden believes each nation has the right to choose its own alliances, but threats and bribes are all part of the game to influence that choice.) Ukraine’s largest trade and economic partner is Russia, but little by little, Ukraine has been “dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia.”
Once the “Maidan” authorities came into power after the Western-supported 2014 coup, first the Russian language came under attack, then dropped from the school curriculum. Putin also speaks out against Zelenskiy’s Indigenous People’s law. According to the 2001 census, ethnic Russians comprise 17.3 percent of Ukraine’s population. However, when Zelenskiy passed an Indigenous People’s law, a law designed to protect minorities from discrimination, forced assimilation, the incitement of hatred against them, and genocide, and to ensure their representation in government and their ability to be educated in their own language, Ukraine was the first in the world to include in the definition of indigenous people the precondition that they must not have statehood outside the nation in which they’re living. In other words, since the nation of Russia exists, Russians living in Ukraine do not have the protection of coverage under the Indigenous People’s law.
Putin speaks of the forced assimilation which is cutting Russians—especially the younger generation—off from their identity and indoctrinating them to believe that Russia is their enemy. Even the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, with ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, displeases the new Ukrainian authorities, and monks and priests, Putin writes, are being beaten in Ukraine.
The idea of Ukraine’s simply being independent from Russia has morphed into an anti-Russian attitude, with a “harsh and artificial division of Ukraine and Russia.” Ukraine’s rulers are deliberately nurturing their own aggressive Russophobia into society as state policy. This, Putin writes, is what Russia will not accept. “Today, the ‘right’ patriot of Ukraine is only the one who hates Russia. . . . Hate and anger, as world history has repeatedly proven, are a very shaky foundation for sovereignty. . . .”
Putin is not writing about conquering Russia. He is not writing about any refusal to recognize its sovereignty. He is writing against the hatred for Russia that has become a part of Ukrainian state policy. Putin points out that millions of Ukrainians are opposed to this anti-Russia agenda, but they are intimidated, silenced, or even killed for expressing their views.
Nowhere does Putin express a wish to take over Ukraine or to dictate to Ukraine. Even when he speaks of Ukraine as being a nation formed in the Soviet period, or initially formed largely as a result of Polish and other intellectuals’ ideas, he is not suggesting that Russia should take over Ukraine. He emphasizes that he is not anti-Ukraine, and that it is up to Ukrainians to decide what is best for their nation. “We respect the Ukrainian language and traditions. We respect Ukrainians’ desire to see their country free, safe and prosperous.”
However, Putin does point out that borders made by the Bolsheviks when the USSR formed in 1922 actually robbed Russia of territory. Because he is clearly not talking about dissolving Ukraine or taking over the nation, my interpretation is that he is linking this mention of the Bolsheviks’ borders to the fact that many ethnic Russians live in Ukraine, especially in the East and South, and so, if Donetsk and Lugansk wish to separate from Ukraine given the new anti-Russian state policies, this would be fair, because the territory has been ethnically Russian for generations.
To my awareness, Putin and these two republics had no problem with their being a part of Ukraine as long as Ukraine’s leadership was not pursuing social, political, and economic policies that were anti-Russian, both with respect to the Russians living in Ukraine and to Russia itself. Instead of fomenting civil war with a coup and then sending billions of dollars in weapons since 2014 to escalate that war, all Biden and NATO nations had to do was insist to Ukraine that it cease at once with the anti-Russian talk and actions. Of course, this would be difficult to do if it were the US and NATO who were also doing the anti-Russia talk and actions.
What really is goading Russia is not a belligerent desire to control and opportunistically use Ukraine, but despair and rage over the anti-Russia social and economic policies being implemented in Ukraine, policies that have even turned violent, with bloody provocations being staged in Donetsk and Lugansk and people burned alive in the fire in Odessa in May 2014. Donetsk and Lugansk tried to respond to Ukraine’s newly imposed leadership by peacefully seceding and establishing their own republics, but this action was not accepted by Ukraine, which pejoratively called them separatists and terrorists. Putin points out that the Minsk 1 and Minsk 2 agreements would have given “a real chance to peacefully restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” but Ukraine has failed to observe the terms of the agreements, agreements which would thwart the anti-Russia program of Ukrainian authorities.
Putin is also concerned about Western exploitation and political control over Ukraine: “Russia is open to dealing with Ukraine and ready to discuss the most complex issues. But it is important for us to understand that our partner is defending its national interests but not serving someone else’s, and is not a tool for someone else’s hands to fight against us.”
Putin’s concern that Ukraine is being used by Western individuals seeking to profit off Ukraine’s markets, resources, and agricultural land is completely valid, especially considering the US foreign policy record of engaging with other nations precisely for those reasons. A typical example is how President Nixon and Henry Kissinger used the CIA to topple Chile’s Salvador Allende because his policies to help the poor and landless didn’t spell high enough profits for International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT), PepsiCo., and Anaconda Mining Company, who helped fund anti-Allende propaganda in Chile and the coup.
Again, such greed-motivated foreign policy is typical. You can read online in declassified documents the conversations of National Security Adviser Kissinger and President Nixon about a recent coup in Bolivia. All they care about is Gulf Oil’s financial prospects. That’s it. No concern about the people. Kissinger is specifically worried that the new government will expect Gulf Oil to share more of its profits with the Bolivian people by paying higher taxes or royalties. We’re talking about Bolivia, the poorest nation in South America. Remember: US foreign policymakers eventually broke every single treaty with the Native Americans in order to seize their land and resources. The sickness of greed is a foundation of US foreign policy. That’s more than a condemnation. That’s a diagnosis of disease. Unfortunately, each generation seems to judge its success in foreign policy on the wealth it secures for those special social and business circles running the country. Putin’s concerns are valid.
Putin emphasizes the common cultural, spiritual, and historical heritage of Russia and Ukraine. When Putin says “unity,” it is obvious that he does not mean conquest, merging, or takeover. He means caring and sharing between the two nations. He compares the relationship between Russia and Ukraine to the relationship between the US and Canada: they are independent and sovereign with distinct foreign policies, but they have much in common and much that they share, including close economic ties and a common language.
Despite these clear and valid remarks, US commentators only parrot one another and erroneously extract from the essay, which they falsely deem “notorious,” a single idea: Putin doesn’t recognize Ukraine’s borders or sovereignty. Putin has imperialist ideas. Putin wants empire. Absolutely nothing in Putin’s essay supports these interpretations. And talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Just read PNAC’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” a highly influential report with ideas that strongly persist and drive US foreign policy, and you’ll see who’s the empire-builder.
Even Putin’s concern about neo-Nazism in Ukraine, completely valid, is oddly twisted to suggest that Putin’s wish to remove Nazi influence in Ukraine is proof of his imperialist desires over Ukraine. Then what about the Allies in WWII who strove to knock the Nazis out of power in Germany? Shouldn’t they be accused of imperialist desires over Germany? Putin points out that Ukraine’s government glorifies as heroes those Ukrainians who collaborated with Nazis. He observes that Ukraine consistently votes against the UN General Assembly’s resolution to condemn the glorification of Nazism. In fact, in 2021, the resolution was passed with 130 nations voting in favor, 51—including the entire EU—abstaining, and only 2 voting against it: Ukraine and the US. The US supported its decision by falsely claiming that the resolution was a thinly veiled attempt by Russia to serve as fraudulent cover for its actions in Ukraine. Perhaps US policymakers should speak with the human rights groups that have condemned neo-Nazi violence in Ukraine.
Putin’s conclusion of his essay reads: “I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries. . . .Russia has never been and will never be ‘anti-Ukraine.’ And what Ukraine will be—it is up to its citizens to decide.” Strangely enough, this remark is interpreted as indicating that Putin proclaims Ukraine’s statehood depends upon Moscow! Yet such an interpretation is ludicrous!
Putin has clearly compared the relationship he is seeking with Ukraine to be like that between the US and Canada. His point is that a Ukraine that is friendly with Russia, that is not hating Russia, is the Ukraine that is true to itself, not only because Ukraine’s population contains a large number of ethnic Russians, but because Ukraine and Russia have a very long history of cooperation. A Ukraine that does not have a cooperative relationship with Russia is an indicator that Ukraine is actually not sovereign but has become the puppet of Western forces.
Instead of mentioning Putin’s passionate concern described at length in his essay regarding the anti-Russian hatred developed in Ukraine, US policymakers, commentators, and media makers consider the essay to be proof of Putin’s belligerence and imperialist vision. Yet these statements about Putin are absolutely slanderous. If Putin’s fair-minded, absolutely non-belligerent essay can be called “notorious,” I can hardly wait to see how my own essay will be vilified, misinterpreted, and falsely interpreted by idiots who can’t even read a Russian essay that was even translated into English for them.
There are those who will say that Putin is lying. He’s not saying his true intentions. Fine. Perhaps he’s not. Perhaps Putin would support only those Ukrainians who would corruptly help him, his favorite oligarchs, or the Russian nation. He’s purportedly wealthy and perhaps he, too, has a mind warped by desires for money, as we find throughout the US foreign policy ideology. Perhaps he wants Ukrainians to provide Russia with cheap resources and serve Russia as low-paid employees to enrich his personal bank accounts. It is fair to ask these questions and not repress one’s doubts. It would be foolish just to trust one side or the other without trustworthiness being proven. We have to uncover any greed and negative motivations on both sides, just as we have to search for the positive motivations.
However, whether Putin is lying or not in his essay is a separate argument. The point I’m making right here is that no one should be saying that his essay is saying or proving anything about his alleged belligerence and lust for empire. Anyone who says that either never read the essay or is a liar. They are irresponsibly spreading falsehood. Moreover, theories or assumptions about any negative motivations within Putin should not be seized upon as truth or acted upon as facts, as the US is so fond of doing. Why not give Putin a chance to prove his words are true?
The purport of Putin’s essay and his other remarks strongly indicate that he does not find democratic a Ukraine that represents only Western profit-makers, and he does not find it just or humanitarian for armed Ukrainians to be attacking Donetsk and Lugansk and to be willfully ignoring the terms of the Minsk Agreement. He is opposed to a Ukrainian government that is not truly representing Ukraine, and he resents how Ukrainians are being turned against Russia when they have a common, shared background and history of unity as well as a very large population of ethnic Russians. It does not at all seem that he is seeking conquest, but positive relations with Ukraine rather than this cold, hurtful shoulder. It is enraging how Putin’s essay could be so falsely represented.
It is enraging because here we have a Russian leader who is making excellent points that we could work with, points, that if respected, could help to resolve the conflict. But instead, Putin is being verbally crucified by the mob of political commentators for making points he did not make and for having aggressive, belligerent visions that he has never expressed or acted upon. Everything he says and does is twisted by US policymakers and the US media.
It’s bad enough that Putin has to suffer for what he did not say or intend, but this twisting of his words is an excuse for US policymakers to irresponsibly escalate conflict in Ukraine and with Russia, and it will come at the expense of the lives of Russians and Ukrainians, whom Americans supposedly care so much about. It is coming at the expense of billions of dollars, no doubt shouldered by US or Ukrainian taxpayers. And it could come at the expense of a much wider war as well as environmental damage. All because people can’t read an essay and understand it. All because people are so stuck in believing this evil persecutor, innocent victim, and rescuing hero script that their minds do not allow them to believe anything different, even when given proof to the contrary.
Are American commentators deliberately lying about the essay in order to take the spotlight off what he is actually saying—that the West should not be opportunistically dominating Ukraine and turning Ukraine to hate Russians and Russia? Are they deliberately trying to distract us from the excellent points he is making by concocting a point he is not making? Or is their interpretation of his words unintentionally skewed by the Cold War biases in their own minds? Or did they not even read his essay? Or—and this is a very real possibility, not just a sarcastic jab—do they have poor reading comprehension skills? It’s just one more reason why a nation whose policymakers are so deficient in empathy, understanding, logic, and reading comprehension should not be armed to the teeth with high-tech weapons that only empower their faulty sense of judgment.
Of course, the entire US policymaker circle is obviously lacking in empathy and understanding, so it is not surprising that those who feel highly anti-Russian would also lack the empathy and sensitivity needed to understand the meaning of an essay. Now, someone like John Denver would understand the essay, but then again, he was a musician and a poet, with the type of mind needed for understanding and accurate interpretation. For whatever reason, they have completely twisted his words and intentions into an unrecognizable form. And don’t forget: Putin would never even have crossed Ukraine’s borders had the West not already infiltrated them with coup machinations, weapon shipments, and military training to encourage Ukrainians to attack Donetsk and Lugansk.
7. Double Standards
To fortify the script of good vs. evil even further, double standards abound and multiply, like rabbits in springtime. Both Russia and the US have invaded nations. But Russia’s invasions are motivated by belligerence, never legitimate fears, while US invasions are motivated by legitimate fears, never belligerence. Same behavior, different judgment. In fact, to doubt this double standard is sacrilegious to those who think of American patriotism as a religion. Putin’s past condemnations of the obsessive and ongoing hyper-use of force by the US are unreasonable and inappropriate. But Biden’s indignant shock and condemnation of Putin’s use of force are wise.
Similarly, Russian military exercises are ominous and malicious, yet US and NATO joint military collaboration with Ukrainian forces is well-intentioned and benevolent, and US and NATO nations’ arming of Ukraine with billions in surveillance systems, Humvees, missiles, and drones is only sensible and decent.
Russia’s taking back Crimea is described as a belligerent invasion. Russia claims there was no invasion but a referendum in which the largely Russian population voted to rejoin Russia, with whom it had existed until 1954 when it was attached to Ukraine. Putin’s motivating concern about losing the naval base on the Black Sea to the creeping-east NATO is another fear erased from media discussion because fear, once again, would make Russia seem less evil and more understandable. Yet US insistence that it will never ever recognize the Crimea as part of Russia suggests an unusual preoccupation, frankly, with wanting Crimea for itself, for NATO, and for companies like ExxonMobil.
Moreover, according to investigative historian Eric Zuesse, a key goal of the 2014 coup which was supported by the Obama administration was precisely to replace Russia’s naval base on the Black Sea with a US naval base. But we’re supposed to all be in denial about that. Of course, if the US succeeds in its plot to topple Putin, it will install a leader who will give it the access it wants to the Black Sea. You can be sure of that. And you can be sure it won’t be portrayed as acquisitive or greedy, but just and fair.
Double standards also pertain to information and trust. American groupthink, inflated by its self-righteous role in the script, and seeming to borrow from middle school social dynamics, jeers and smears President Putin’s every word as absurd and staged, despite the intelligent observations in his remarks, despite the fact that the intelligence and perceptiveness conveyed in his essay far surpass the shallow logic and simplistic, jingoist patriotism that passes for intelligence in the statements of our US policymakers. Just compare Putin’s essay to Bush Jr.’s 2006 National Security Strategy. But Putin is portrayed as unhinged, and Biden, meanwhile, we’re expected to trust as caring, unconcealing, so honest that he’s “thinking out loud,” and holding out the olive branch—with no stage management or image control whatsoever. No proof is needed for us to believe. Just faith in the script.
The double standards get even more sickening. Headlines scream of slaughter and savage Russian war crimes! TV reporters interview sobbing Ukrainians! Yet US, NATO, and Ukrainian war crimes are barely publicized, their victims ignored. Same actions, different judgment.
This double standard on sympathy is particularly nauseating—yet inescapable. Websites and social media have pop-up notices asking for help for suffering Ukrainians. Sitting in the waiting rooms of medical offices, you can hear TV news stations interviewing frightened Ukrainians. You hear US Secretary of State Antony Blinken trying to sound moral and dignified in his denunciation of Russia’s invasion—despite his own history of advocating the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq as a form of “tough diplomacy” which has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and despite his history of supporting Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Yemen which has brought about another humanitarian disaster.
Of course, Blinken’s private interests are with WestExec Advisors, which helps bridge connections between the US Defense Department and information technology companies such as Google and Amazon in order to help with violent programs such as drone warfare. So he would tend to not see the double standards as double standards. Perhaps he would see the invasions of Iraq and Yemen not so much as invasions but as examples of the “problem-solving” skills Sullivan claimed Americans uniquely possess.
So we’re inundated with stories of grief and sympathy online, in the media, and at the dentist’s office on TV. Even the grocery stores interrupt their songs on speakers to proudly announce plans to help the suffering Ukrainians. But why weren’t grocery stores and websites concerned about suffering Iraqis and Afghans, victims of US invasions? Why no public announcements of supplies being shipped to help the tortured and unlawfully detained at Guantánamo, Camp Bucca, Camp Cropper, or Abu Ghraib? Are we supposed to cut off our hearts’ feelings because the US government says so? Are our hearts turned on and off by the government? Does government own our hearts and minds? Why are victims of Russian violence innocent and worthy of sympathy, but victims of US government violence are rarely worth mentioning at all, as if they deserve to suffer? Were they just evil people who had to die because US policymakers knew what was best for the world? It’s repulsive.
Upon hearing the grocery store announcement demonstrating sympathy for Ukrainians, I couldn’t help but call out, “Oh, shut up!” Why? Because it’s not truly sympathy. This isn’t love. It’s hypocrisy. It’s a political game. It’s like asking us to kneel before people dressed up as benevolent, moral priests before they go in the back room to secretly abuse boys.
If this were truly sympathy, truly love and caring, we’d be hearing sympathy for those who suffer from US invasions. It wouldn’t be 180◦ sympathy for one side only. It’d be 360◦ sympathy. What’s more, if it were truly sympathy, we’d be ensuring that the US government was not killing anyone, whether through invasions, drones, weapon shipments, sanctions, or unfair terms of business and trade.
Why are we stooping so low as to give the US government the right to tell us whom to love, whom to hate, whom to aid, and whom to kill? The US government does not have this right! No government has this right! Why is the entire nation like a giant beehive where everyone must support the Queen and proclaim her messages without having hearts and minds of their own?
It’s a really hideous feeling living in this psychological climate of Orwellian doublethink and herd groupthink, as if they’re trying to suck out our hearts, brains, and souls. The public announcements over the speakers make it all so jarring, so fraudulent. How different the United States is from the benevolent democracy we falsely learned that it was as children. When sympathy for the suffering is merely based upon US government’s opportunistic decisions about allies and enemies, that’s not truly love. It’s fake. It’s really only blind allegiance to the US government and those whom serve the US government’s purposes.
Do you know what’s revolting? During the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, independent journalists reported that US troops in Fallujah took over a hospital and wouldn’t allow Iraqis to get care. US troops fired at ambulances and killed hundreds of civilians. An endless current of women and children, shot by US snipers, were racing to the emergency clinic. Throughout Iraq, thousands of private US military contractors could kill Iraqis at will with immunity and impunity, enraging Iraqis—and never held accountable. It’s revolting it happened, and it’s revolting that you won’t see anything about that on a front or back page in mainstream media. You have to read Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater.
The US bombed Iraq’s water supply and the water went foul, making people sick. US troops used dogs to scare little children, telling them the dogs would bite if the children cried. US troops broke into families’ homes at night, terrifying them, forcing the men to all lie down on the floor, even holding a gun to a praying grandmother’s head. Children didn’t even go to sleep at night, preferring to at least be awake for the next time US troops would barge in again and start yelling and waving their guns about. But you won’t see that in the news. You have to read Deborah Ellis’ Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees to learn that.
During the Persian Gulf War, the US attacked the retreating Iraqi army, napalmed and fuel-air bombed Iraqi troops to deprive them of oxygen, and bulldozed over the Iraqi troops, dead and alive, in miles of trenches. The US bombed the nuclear facilities. But you’d have to read Triumph of the Image: A Third World Perspective, edited by Hamid Mowlana, George Gerbner, and Herbert Schiller, to learn that. The US military bombed infrastructure, water treatment plants, power plants, fertilizer plants, food warehouses, hospitals, bridges, irrigation systems, civil buildings, transportation networks, and oil refineries. Tens of thousands of Iraqis died after the war because of the destruction to the infrastructure from these bombings. Women, out of stress, lost their unborn babies. Women, out of stress, couldn’t nurse their babies. But you won’t hear that on mainstream media. You’ll just read words of jubilation over the carnage! For the suffering, you have to read Zahra Ali’s Women and Gender in Iraq.
During the sanctions, pump parts couldn’t be replaced, causing sewage to spill everywhere, causing typhoid and dysentery to reach epidemic proportions. People had no electricity, no food. People were forced to eat bread made from flour mixed with sawdust. People died from lack of medication, no longer available because of sanctions. Large numbers of livestock died. People became severely depressed. But you won’t read that in mainstream media. You have to read Ellis’ Children of Iraq.
We could go on with examples. During the Korean War, the US air force, with no opposing air force, leisurely carpet-bombed street after street of neighborhoods in North Korea, destroying three-quarters of residences and more than half the majority of cities. The US dropped napalm on civilians, cities, and countryside. It bombed irrigation dams, which caused flooding, washed out villages, destroyed rice crops, and caused mass starvation—another US war crime unannounced. You know you won’t read that in mainstream US media, where North Korea is evil. You have to read Blaine Harden’s The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot.
Before the US government takes the beam out of Russia’s eye, it had better extract the giant mass of sewage and putrid waste in its own eye. The US government has no basis upon which to judge other nations when it refuses to heed the condemnation of the International Criminal Court, and when it refuses to even join the ICC because it arrogantly wants veto power over all the other nations’ voices. If other nations wish to judge Russia’s actions—nations who actually abide by international law themselves, that’s fine. They can evaluate Russia’s provocations, motivations, reactions, and options. Otherwise, the US government is behaving like a slick, polished, pompous gentleman, indignant over the crime he sees in the streets, yet silent about the hit men he’s been paying for years to kill targets, bomb villages, and secretly bury corpses.
If the US government routinely condemned itself for its violence, if it genuinely tried to reform its foreign policies, curb its weaponry, muffle its greed, then I’d be open to being more horrified about what Russia is doing. But frankly, I’m too shocked and unsettled by the two-faced morality. The US government wants us to care about Ukrainians only to be pawns in its little game against Russia. And if US policymakers and media makers are going to tell me to cry over Ukrainians but not shed a tear over Afghans, well I’m not going to oblige them, because the truth is, the US doesn’t care about any of them.
If the US really cared about Ukrainians, it would’ve been much more careful about not provoking Russia in the first place, not supporting an undemocratic coup, and not letting Ukraine get into the current state it’s in. It would’ve supported non-violent conflict resolution rather than send weapons to escalate a civil war. If the US government really cared about Afghans back in 1979, it never would have armed one side to kill the other and to bait the USSR. It would’ve used its wealth and talent to help resolve the largely economic conflict at the root of Afghanistan’s civil war. And if the US government had really cared about Americans, it wouldn’t have sent US troops to their deaths and it would’ve been much more careful about not provoking so many enemies around the world who abhor Americans because of our government’s stupid, greedy, hostile policies. We can’t even travel abroad without fear of being targeted as Americans. What kind of freedom is that? But if the US government really cares about making profits from weapon sales and new foreign acquisitions, then it’s going to keep doing what it’s doing: sending weapons and not solving the roots of conflict.
The double standards never end. Biden, seemingly judicious, seeks to place Putin on trial for war crimes. It’s one step closer to ousting Putin and replacing him with what is euphemistically called a “pro-US” leader. A pro-US leader is nothing more than a leader of low morals who will sell out his country to please US policymakers and businessmen, whether by enhancing their personal fortunes or the fortunes of select US businessmen, giving away businesses and resources at low prices to US businessmen, sending his military wherever the US wants, hosting US military bases and US nukes, and voting however the US wants at the UN, IMF, and World Bank.
If Biden is so judicious, why doesn’t he suggest war crimes trials for all living US presidents? Have the statutes of limitations passed? Or isn’t he really bothered by war crimes but he’s using them as a pretext to try to oust Putin? Or is he afraid he’ll get charged with crimes too?
But seriously, let’s put US presidents on trial for the horrors they’ve inflicted with invasions, drone killings, kidnappings, torture, mining harbors, selling weapons, and collaborating with death squads and warlords in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama, to name only a few. Why not hold US Presidents accountable for violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by deploying nukes in five non-nuclear powers in Europe and revitalizing the US nuclear arsenal rather than dismantling it?
Exactly why doesn’t Biden hold these presidents accountable for violating both international law and Congressional law? Why a merely momentary scandal and no justice, just pardons? Why, when it comes to presidential crimes, are we supposed to be “moving forward” and not “stuck in the past”? It’s something ordinary Americans never hear at their own trials for their never-pardonable alleged crimes.
Why are US presidents and their friends treated as being above the law, as deities who can kill whom they please with impunity? Are we expected to look up to this class as holier than us? Are we expected to be grateful they’re not held accountable for their crimes, because they’re such wonderful, distinguished Americans while we’re all losers who deserve every punch we get? What kind of fraudulent democracy is this? And Americans are supposed to believe in elections as indicative of democracy? Ha! They just bring in more of the same! The same pardons, privileged circles, trampling of foreigners, and kleptocratic use of taxes to make government serve our leaders’ and their circles’ personal business interests.
Those, like Biden, who call for a trial of the Russian leader but not of US presidents aren’t supporting justice at all, but injustice. They’re using the law when it suits them as sort of a dress-up costume to look gallant and dispensing with it when they wish for themselves and their allies to violate it with impunity and run around in their underwear.
Upholders of true international justice would understand that violent enemy actions don’t occur out of the blue. Most enemies are not motivated by malice and evil. Most have grievances. While there’s no excuse for violence, there’s also no excuse for failing to attend to the injustices and fears that lead a nation to behave with violence. Humanity and justice require that we have 360◦ empathy and understanding for all sides of conflict.
However, since the fictitious script of evil persecutor, innocent victim, and rescuing hero would never hold up in an unbiased courtroom, the US government has its own system of international justice. Instead of supporting the International Criminal Court, the US government and its cohort, mainstream media, hold court through the media! Acting as prosecutor, judge, and executioner at once, the US government and its propaganda arm have sentenced thousands of Mid-Easterners—without a defense attorney, charges, jury, judge, or trial—to prison, torture, and death in the War on Terror.
It’s the same court that has pardoned or simply ignored the crimes of US Presidents and high officials. And it’s the same court that condemns Putin’s every word as false and every move as illegal and malicious. In their pseudo-court of the front pages, policymakers and media makers feel right at home falling into habits of half-truths and script promotion. Their own side of conflict is invariably angelic, and the other side is both condemned and punished as the devil. Instead of an impartial analysis of conflict, facts are molded to fit the cultural script.
In this pseudo-court, Putin’s wish to protect Donetsk and Lugansk, self-declared republics since 2014, and end Kiev’s 8-year war that has killed 14,000 is automatically mocked as false pretext for conquest. Yet US wishes to protect Ukraine from Russia are trusted as purely caring, without ulterior design. The role of private military contractors, NATO, and the US in escalating civil war and provoking Russia by arming Ukraine with billions in weapons since 2014 rather than committing to non-violently resolve Ukraine’s internal conflict remains unassessed. Why? Isn’t provoking and escalating violence a crime? Who paid for the billions in weapons? US taxpayers? Ukrainian taxpayers? Either way, it was people who had no voice in the decision to make the purchase.
Russia’s claims that Kiev cut off utilities, including water, to the republics and would not allow Russia to send humanitarian aid are similarly unexamined, even though articles from German and British news sites report on Ukraine’s attacks in 2014 that damaged a power plant in Donetsk, thus cutting off access to water, and on Ukraine’s cutting off the electricity supply and funding to the republics in 2017. None of these humanitarian matters made front pages either. It wasn’t convenient for the script because it threatens the image of Ukraine’s innocence and Russia’s evil.
The fact that US policymakers accurately predicted that Putin would use the civil war as a reason for invasion is somehow supposed to imply that therefore they proved his motivation false, when actually, they did not prove it false, they only logically figured out that the civil war would provoke Russia. Of course, if they knew it would provoke Russia, why didn’t they stop sending arms to Ukraine and try harder to resolve the civil war in the first place? Why aren’t they responsible for this? Silly question! The answer: those in charge of holding them responsible are all part of the same corrupt system. It’s the same pseudo-court that pardons presidents. But it makes you wonder: Who really wanted that civil war anyway? Ukrainians who actually have to suffer through it? Or US policymakers who relax thousands of miles away in safety?
8. Consequences of Believing the Script
What are the consequences of believing in this persecutor, victim, and hero drama, of believing in this script of good vs. evil? Once evil is equated with enemies, it becomes deceptively simple for “heroes” to champion goodness: bomb enemies into submission, impose deadly sanctions, strangulate funding, send weapons, engineer coups. But none of these methods nurture goodness. Instead, they nurture injustice and cruelty. The truth is, those convinced they’re fighting evil are frequently blinded to the immorality and injustice of their own actions against people who aren’t so evil after all. US policymakers, gripped by talons of determination to bring freedom and light abroad and to banish evil, have invaded nations of the Mid-East to usher in decades of despair and atrocities.
US policymakers, in the clutches of fervent, obsessive anti-Communism combined with greed, have toppled foreign leaders in multiple nations abroad and ignited decades of torture, executions, and disappearances under US-supported right-wing tyrants, particularly in Latin America. Mesmerized by dreamy convictions of divinely-ordained expansion across the North American continent, by a belief in the goodness of Western civilization and technology, US policymakers have exterminated, culturally crippled, and spiritually ruined Native American tribes, multiple species of life, and the health of the land, air, and water.
US policymakers can’t seem to shake a dangerous psychological combination: genuine, exaggerated fears of foreigners, a pseudo-religious, obsessive belief in America’s ability to create a better world, and underlying motives of greed, which, in their minds, they justify as benefiting the world, not only themselves. And this script—the noble hero rescuing the innocent victim against the evil persecutor—holds their illogic, their noble dreams and aspirations, their cruel policies, and their propaganda together like glue.
Observing the script inflicts even further damage: The US habitually uses exaggerated fears of evil enemies, not to actually reduce evil in the world, but as false justification for colossal military budgets, NATO expansion, more military bases, troops, weapons, and nukes—all of which pour gasoline on the world tinderbox of tension, drain desperately-needed funding, and fail to resolve conflict. In a way, the US military budget acts as sanctions against the American people, because the enormous drain on funding cuts us off from our potential to experience aspects of life outside of war. Another consequence of the script is the wearying psychological effect on the mind, the disgust at belonging to a nation that is so cruel to others, so proud, and so false—and not being able to do a thing about it. This article, for instance, will come and go, but nothing will change. It is disheartening at best.
The good vs. evil script has yet further ramifications: It enables the “innocent” to get away with all they’ve done to exacerbate conflict. It gives them a free pass to pull off the same stunt on another nation. The script can even enable the “innocent,” including neoconservatives and liberal hawks now united in Biden’s administration, to slickly seize power, resources, and markets from those deemed evil.
US leaders’ promotion of this good vs. evil storyline appears compassionate, but it isn’t against killing. It isn’t about justice. It’s about pushing a script that provides pretext for injustice and violence on the part of those proclaiming their own goodness. US policymakers, it seems, were never so happy about Russia as when it dissolved in 1991 and came under the economic attack of greedy Russian, American, and other foreign predators, eager to acquire Russia’s resources and markets for themselves now that Communism no longer held them back. The real reason US policymakers hated Communism became all too clear. It was cloaked in morality. But it was about greed. And it was about something more than that, a pseudo-search, perhaps for personal worth, or for national self-esteem.
It can be self-hatred that drives people to believe in these fictional scripts in which they see themselves as innocent victims or rescuing heroes. Policymakers and media makers deceived others and perhaps themselves. Judging people as evil and then hating and killing them is a quick, sloppy, and selfish way for some people to prove their own worth, to assure their own merit as being on the side of goodness. After all, they just killed evil.
But there are better, truer ways to prove one’s goodness and worth. The first step is to scrap the script and view this conflict impartially. It is not a case of innocent Ukraine and noble US and NATO vs evil Russia. Each member in the cast has both positive and negative motivations, some good features, some bad features, perhaps not in equal amounts, but they’re there in different ways. Americans, like Russians, deserve to know this. We all deserve accurate, sophisticated information about conflict. We don’t need one-sided propaganda that teaches us to hate one another, or that makes us roll our eyes with sarcasm over what we’re supposed to believe. We don’t need a good guy script to make us feel good about ourselves. Actually, it just makes us feel false. We—policymakers, media makers, and civilians alike—we need the full truth to help us find understanding, to compassionately release the grip of greed and rivalry, and to pursue non-violent pathways to peace, friendship, and a caring form of justice.
Why are our leaders so scared of this? Why do they fear revealing the positive and negative motivations of both sides of conflict? Are they afraid they’ll get hurt if we don’t believe the script? Do they honestly see the script as real? Has the social inbreeding of these business circles led to minds incapable of seeing clearly? Or do they fervently want to see themselves as good? Is there a way for them to feel good that does not require their sacrificing the truth? Can they find a better way to be heroes? Can they try much harder, and without taking sides in foreign conflicts, to actually be the way that Sullivan claims Americans are?
Is Putin Failing Because of a Lack of Democracy?
At heart, none of us, whether we’re American, Russian, or Ukrainian, are helped by pseudo-justice that is distributed falsely on the pages of government propaganda and fired with heartless impunity from drones. At heart, none of us benefit from a ridiculous, dangerous script that reads like a fairytale with evil ogres and innocent little children. We need justice that is based upon a courageous look at the full truth and deep understanding. We need understanding that is guided by the genuine wish to help one another, to kick the habit of propaganda, to ground irrational fears of bad guys, to cure the sickness of greed, to dislodge false and dysfunctional notions about personal worth and success, to improve our lives, minds, hearts, and spirits, and to demonstrate caring and friendship, not just for those falsely deemed innocent, heroic, and good, but for all of us, with 360◦ of empathy, all the way around the world.
 Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward, Born to Win (New York: Addison-Wesley, 1971), 93-94.
 Waldman, Atlas of the North American Indian.
 ; Wikipedia, “List of Wars Involving the United States.”
 William Blum, Killing Hope, (London: Zed, 2014).
- James D. Cockcroft, Latin America: History, Politics, and US Policy, (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1998).
- Noam Chomsky, Profit over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order, (New York: Seven Stories, 1999).
- Vine Deloria Jr., Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto, (New York: Avon Books, 1969).
- Seymour M. Hersh, The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House, (New York: Summit Brooks, 1983).
- Stephen Kinzer, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War” (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013).
- Michael T. Klare, Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum (New York: Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt, 2004).
- Martin A. Lee and Norman Solomon, Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media, (New York: Carol, 1990).
- Hamid Mowlana, George Gerbner, and Herbert Schiller, eds., Triumph of an Image: The Media’s War in the Persian Gulf—A Global Perspective (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1992).
- Murray Polner and Thomas E. Woods, Jr., eds., We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now (New York: Basic Books, 2008).
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