Part 4. Mental escalators of violence in US policy and media makers Part 4E. Psychological patterns of US policymakers  obstruct the creation of genuine democracy

False Bias #5: The US Represents Democracy and the Free World, while Putin’s Russia Seeks to Destroy Democracy. We’ve been discussing how Mental Escalators, specifically US policy and media makers’ dysfunctional, skewed psychological patterns, falsehood, and ignorance are all contributing to an extremely antagonistic, confrontational US foreign policy towards Russia.

A telltale streak running through US policymakers’ perception and interpretation of events is black-and-white thinking, a distorted view of the world in which all those on one side of conflict are perceived as good and all those on the other side are deemed evil, dangerous, unreasonable and worthy of death. As described in the previous essay, Part 4B, such thinking is associated with what Gordon Allport called the “Prejudiced Personality,” which includes an entire set of cognitive habits that skew one’s perception of the world and one’s response to it.[1]

Aside from these US policymakers who are deliberately deceiving us, and chances are at least some are, this black-and-white thinking could be actually insulating policymakers’ brains from accurately perceiving world events and from incorporating into their brains any information, any evidence, that their black-and-white view of the world is incorrect.

For example, let’s examine in this essay the view that the US is defending the “free world” against those who allegedly oppose freedom and democracy. You’ll notice that evidence actually disproves this statement. But US policy and media makers persist in promoting it, either because they’re deliberately lying, or because they’re at the mercy of the limitations of their own minds.

We’ll refer again to Damon Wilson, President of the National Endowment for “Democracy,” and his 2019 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee for the Senate Hearing of the National Defense Strategy. Wilson states: “Our nation and its closest friends agree that the great challenge of the 21st century will be the competition between the free world and authoritarian corrupt state-led capitalism, chief among them China and Russia.”[2]

The last two essays discussed some of the problems with this quotation including that fact that many do not agree about this “great challenge” and the fact that the US cannot validly be considered a force against authoritarianism and corruption. In this essay, we’ll look at the claim that the US government represents and even leads the “free world” and that Russia opposes a free world. In addition to Wilson’s quote, we’ll also examine statements made by Derek Mitchell, President of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), one of NED’s four core institutes. It’s important to know what these two men are telling people, because they’re both top leaders of institutions that allegedly promote democracy.

So is their assessment true that the US promotes democracy and the “Free World” and Russia is an obstacle to democracy? Absolutely not. The US government was never a leader of the “free world” and never can be. How can a national government that has installed, funded, and militarily supported leaders such as Bolivia’s Hugo Bánzer, Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, Nicaragua’s Somoza family dictatorships, Zaire’s Mobutu, Saudi Arabia’s kings, and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and al-Sisi; a national government that has toppled or even killed so many popular, reform-minded, democratic leaders and falsely smeared and deposed of Guatemala’s Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán, helped butcher Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, driven President Rafael Correa from Ecuador, and had a hand in destroying Bolivia’s Evo Morales; a national government that relentlessly interferes in foreign nations’ elections so that people aren’t free to learn, think, and vote for themselves, a national government that insisted Koreans couldn’t govern themselves after WWII but needed US and Japanese occupiers and then a Holocaust-of-a-war, a national government that wiped out most Native American tribes and their entire free way of life—how can such a national government ever have the brazen audacity to call itself the leader of the free world? I’ve never heard a more self-delusional and pernicious lie than this one.

In the Paradigm for Peace model that I created following 9/11, one of the four major parts of the model is the concept of a cooperative attitude of thought and dialogue. Therefore, while I’ll state my opinions based on research with confidence, it’s always important to leave the door open for other ideas, perspectives, and elements of truth. If Wilson were to join us in discussion, how would he account for the fact that the US, supposedly the leader of democracy and the “free world,” has engaged in all the activities above? What is his interpretation of these undemocratic activities? What democratic efforts and activities would he point to in order to defend his idea that the US promotes democracy more than it thwarts it?

Derek Mitchell, President of NDI, claims on NDI’s website, with no evidence to show for it, that Russia is an enemy of democracy. Mitchell praises the massive protests against Putin’s “brazen attack on a democratic neighbor, and democracy itself.”[3]

But what proof is there that Putin’s attack was an attack on democracy? Is Putin actively trying to dismantle democratic structures within Ukraine’s government and impose a dictatorship? I don’t think so. He’s most likely standing up for the right of self-determination, as guaranteed by international law, of the people of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Wasn’t the US-supported 2014 coup of the democratically-elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich a “brazen attack” on democracy itself? Biden’s current Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, wife of Robert Kagan, co-founder of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, and the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt were even caught on tape in a phone conversation in 2014 in which they appeared to be determining the next leader of Ukraine! Their conversation occurred even before Yanukovich was toppled![4]

If US policymakers are so pro-democracy, they why were they happy to accept the results of that coup? And if coups have been redefined as democratic, does that mean we could stage a coup here in the US and it would also be democratic? What if the new American government did away with political parties and campaign contributions and placed in power individuals who would represent the general American population rather than the weapon industry and NATO—would that be democratic? Or would it still not be considered democratic because it was a coup and not an election? Which brings us around again to the question: why did US policymakers find it democratic and legal to support the Ukrainian coup?

Of course, the Nuland-Pyatt phone conversation is probably essentially how it’s done in the US too. Americans don’t really get to elect the president. The two dominant candidates are pretty much chosen for us, probably by two powerful people over the phone, and we’re given the amazing privilege as Americans of getting to pick between one war-loving, weapon-exporting idiot or the other war-loving, weapon-exporting idiot, neither one of whom we’d ever want to be friends with or trust to safely and economically run our own household.

And what kind of people do US policymakers promote abroad anyway? Judging from CIA history, it’s often extreme right-wing individuals who usher in decades of brutality. But let’s look at one man mentioned in the Amnesty International Report in the essay, Part 4C: Aleksei Navalny, a man supported by the US policy and media making establishment as an anti-corruption, pro-democracy heroic opponent to Putin and to “authoritarianism.”

Navalny has been the target of poisoning and is now imprisoned under maximum security in Russia. Amnesty International considers him, after a temporary reconsideration of the issue due to his statements of hatred, a prisoner of conscience,[5] and refers to the massive arbitrary arrests of his supporters as a violation of human rights.[6] While poisoning and arbitrary arrests are clearly inexcusable violations of human rights, omitted from the Western press and from Amnesty’s report are Navalny’s connections with the US, one of the factors that cause many Russians to understandably distrust him.

When a foreign leader such as Putin is well aware of how the CIA has helped murder foreign leaders abroad, including the toppling and suspected poisoning of Brazil’s João Goulart, the reported “suicide” of Chile’s Salvador Allende during the US-engineered attack, and the butchering of Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, it could make someone like Putin want to poison someone before they poison him. It just might do that. You see, not only do we not know whether Putin was behind the poisoning, but, even if he were, we’ll never know how he would’ve responded to an opposition leader in a world where the CIA and NED don’t exist. Their very existence ratchets up tension and heightens the likelihood of foreign intolerance to opposition.

Navalny was a 2010 graduate of the Yale World Fellows Program for which he received a scholarship, and his daughter is a student at Stanford University.[7] Both of these situations suggest US government interest in him and ample opportunity for the CIA and NED to develop an opportunistic, working relationship with him. And, in fact, according to the World Socialist Web Site, a leaked diplomatic cable revealed that Navalny’s organization, the Democratic Alternative Movement, received a grant from NED to fund his activities. While NED-supporters may look at this fact through rose-colored glasses, those who know of NED’s role in instigating protests and coups will look at this fact with alarm. Again, it’s hardly democratic to force an American pawn onto Russians and their government.

On the World Socialist Web Site, Andre Damon writes in an outstanding 2017 article of US policy and media makers’ obsession with allegations that Russia interfered with the 2016 US national elections. Meanwhile, Russian officials decided to block Navalny from participating in the upcoming presidential election. The US and international press responded with indignant denunciations of Russia’s decisions. They’ve incessantly characterized Navalny as the “‘democratic’” face of “‘popular opposition.’”

Damon accurately points out the “hypocrisy and cynicism” of US policy and media makers: “While the alleged Russian ‘meddling’ in the US elections consists of several tens of thousands of dollars in Facebook advertising, Navalny is almost entirely a creature of the US State Department.” Not only has Navalny been funded by the US government through NED, but Navalny is quite unpopular amongst Russians, who dislike his extreme nationalism, his extreme anti-immigrant stance, xenophobia, neo-Nazi ties, and racism. He has also been convicted of crimes, including stealing timber worth half a million dollars from state property.[8] According to the Yale World Fellows Program, his charges were fabricated.

Incidentally, like Putin, Navalny’s also called Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians “one people,” and he’s also stated the Crimea belongs to Russia, but apparently, coming from his mouth, these words don’t bother US policy and media makers. As Damon points out, Navalny has compared minorities in Russia to “‘cockroaches,’” whom he recommends attacking with a pistol. He’s also repeatedly called Georgians “rodents’” and insisted upon the eviction of all Georgians from Russia. Just as the US press is obnoxiously ignoring the well-documented fact that neo-Nazis are on the US side in the proxy war against Russia, the US press also dismisses Navalny’s cruel and bigoted comments.

At the time of the article, in 2017, Navalny had the support of a mere 2 percent of Russia’s electorate.[9] How can NED consider itself democratic in promoting a racist individual disliked by the vast majority of Russians? How can it consider itself to be democratic when promoting and funding any candidate in a foreign election? Perhaps Wilson or Mitchell could explain.

How on Earth can people such as Wilson and Mitchell accuse Putin of being opposed to democracy when he has done nothing like what the US has done in promoting Ukraine’s coup, in pushing for Navalny’s election in Russia, and in its coups, election interference, and invasions of nations worldwide? How can US interference in determining other nations’ leadership possibly be considered a sign of respect for those nations’ sovereignty and those populations’ rights to choose for themselves?

How can they make these accusations against Putin when he has done nothing like what the US did to Afghanistan and Iraq, when he hasn’t come close to killing 800,000 Middle Easterners in the War on Terror?[10] Isn’t respect for human rights considered a part of democracy? The terrorists committing and supporting 9/11 were not in favor of tyranny, as Bush Jr. claimed: they were opposed to it. They were enraged by US support for undemocratic, brutal authoritarians in the Middle East, such as in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE, where 18 of the 19 terrorists of 9/11 originated. Frankly, US destruction of terrorists and refusal to hear terrorist grievances amounts to support for tyranny.

In addition to NED and NDI, another US group that purports to promote democracy is the Alliance for Securing Democracy,[11] whose 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 PNAC’s document, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” (2000). PNAC is also grounded in the threat-oriented attitude “shape them before they shape us.”[12]

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 under President Obama and a defender of drone warfare, whose controversial statements about the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” caused Senator Ron Wyden, correctly or not, to call him a torture apologist.[13] Incidentally, with all of these individuals, as with Putin, it’s important to carefully examine what they actually said within the full context and not just parrot what others say they said or jump to conclusions that they’re bad guys. It’s truth, not propaganda, that promotes effective solutions, peace, justice, and democracy.

Yet Morell also responded heatedly to alleged Russian attempts to use social media to influence voters in the US 2016 elections, stating, “A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life.” He added, “To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11.”[14] One can only wonder how many 9/11s would be the equivalent of the past seventy years of hardcore CIA and NED political interference in elections and leadership abroad, complete with assassinations and decades of brutality under US-promoted leaders. As a former deputy director, Morell, one would think, is aware of the CIA’s history.

Based on its advisors, I would presume that ASD has a primarily military approach to securing democracy, a false notion that democracy, peace, and justice are secured by expanding US military control over the world. With their minds stuck in the box of the military, torture, CIA tricks, and NED propaganda, they’re likely not used to even thinking about other, more effective approaches to creating peace, approaches that don’t even require the types of information sought through torture, approaches that don’t require getting one’s favorite person in power abroad or planting one-sided news. In fact, as we’ll discuss in a later essay, not only is US hegemony contradictory to democracy, but militant, hostile, and deceptive means of spreading democracy, peace, and justice all contradict the very spirit of democracy, peace, and justice. A poor process can’t create a good outcome.

ASD has a precisely anti-Putin mission. ASD’s website plainly reveals its mission as the disempowerment and downfall of Putin, whom, they claim, is an authoritarian and a threat to democracy. At least, the website stated that a few months ago in March 2022. But when I checked again in May, the mission statement had changed. Although it still speaks of the need to “defend against, deter, and raise the costs” to foreign actors who seek to undermine democracy, it no longer specifically mentions Putin.

On what basis does ASD make its claim that Putin is intent on destroying Western democracy, that is, what’s called democracy in the West? Is this fear based upon Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential elections by trying to influence voters over social media? What exactly does ASD fear will ultimately result from such alleged interference?

Have other foreign nations interfered in US elections, such as by offering campaign contributions to certain politicians or political parties or by promoting the American-led groups that represent certain factions within foreign nations? For example, how does anything Russia may have done compare with the influence of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)? According to Noam Chomsky, Israel’s interventions in US elections “‘vastly overwhelm’” anything Russia has ever done.[15] If so, have ASD and NED protested against such interference? Which do ASD members feel could more significantly skew US democratic elections: foreign campaign contributions or foreign social media campaigns?

Are ASD members at all concerned about the effect on US democracy of financial contributions to politicians and political parties made by wealthy American individuals and corporations? Does this power of money enable certain Americans to influence the outcome of elections more than others, such as by funding major advertising campaigns? How does this skew democracy any less than the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections?

Why is it democratic for Americans to be overly influenced by fellow wealthy Americans but not by Russians? And who’s making this judgment? The wealthy Americans? How meaningful is the egalitarianism implied by the phrase “one person, one vote” if certain wealthy social and business circles have the power to perform the equivalent of stuffing the ballot box by determining ahead of time the major candidates for whom we will be allowed to vote?

Doesn’t the current wealth of corporate funding for the dominant parties, the Democrats and Republicans, already make elections undemocratic and skew advertising? Russia is accused of intervening in US elections by promoting third-party candidates,[16] but doesn’t such promotion help correct the imbalance in funding? In fact, wouldn’t support for third-party candidates actually make US elections more democratic?

US policy and media makers like to condemn Putin for being in power for more than twenty years, as if this is the ultimate proof of his opposition to democracy. But quite frankly, we may as well have had the same US president in power for the past seventy years or more: what difference does it make whether it was Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama, Trump, or Biden? They all loved fossil fuel corporations. They all supported war and weapon shipments. They all idiotically equated US muscle abroad with the delivery of freedom. They often had the same people in their administrations, certainly the same types of people—the lawyers, bankers, and businessmen from those privileged social and business circles that give themselves the right to run America. They all thought of US foreign policy in self-centered, selfish, competitive, hostile terms, but cloaked with billowing words of “freedom” and “democracy.”

It’s been the same ideology in power for seventy years and likely several more decades than that. Voters never had a chance to say no to the fossil fuel, nuclear, and weapon industries. We never had a chance to say no—or to vote for a candidate from one of the two dominating parties who would say no—to war, weapon shipments, and the new drone wars. And we’re supposed to get goosebumps over the beauty of US elections as an indicator of democracy? We’re supposed to think this is somehow superior to Putin’s 20-year hold on power? At least Russia didn’t waste time and millions or billions of dollars on shallow, meaningless campaigns and millions of dollars worth of inaugural royalty balls every four years.

Besides questioning the relative effect on US democracy of various forms of American and foreign interference, how do ASD members account for the severe US government interference in foreign elections and governments abroad in multiple nations worldwide since at least the early 1900s, interference that has resulted in death and butchery, butchery of leaders, such as Patrice Lumumba, and butchery of civilians, as in Guatemala and Chile? Do ASD members believe that the US government has a right to interfere in other nations’ internal elections, politics, and policies? If so, who made this decision? The same social and business circles that made the decision that they can have more power over other Americans by determining the miserable slate of candidates from which we have to choose at election time?

It seems to me that these certain social and business circles who run our foreign policy and our elections—the ones connected for decade after decade with the Rockefellers, Morgans, and so forth, believe that they’ve the right to have more power than any other Americans or foreigners outside those circles to do as they please within the US and within the world, even if it violates national and international law. Furthermore, if a foreign nation such as Russia allegedly interferes through social media in US elections, the problem for these social and business circles isn’t over any type of violation of democracy, the problem is that such Russian interference is messing up the game for the elite American social and business circles who themselves want to influence American voters and elections in their own way.

US policymakers seem to take pride in labeling everything they do, everything they touch, as an indicator of democracy, like the Midas touch. “The US has installed that leader and propped him up despite the population’s dislike of him and his brutality? Well, he must stand for democracy because the US has the democratic Midas touch!” “US businessmen have invested in that countries’ utilities and resources? Well, that’s a great sign of democracy!”

But the Midas touch of US policymakers is much more likely to turn a nation into gold and profit for US businessmen while freezing the very soul of democracy that represents a foreign population’s interests and ideas. It’s critically important that we recognize the role black-and-white thinking is playing in deceiving US policymakers and the American public into believing that US foreign policy, even the most greedy, heartless, cruel, and murderous policies, is automatically beneficial, democratic, and just, simply because it’s created and performed by Americans.

Kristin Christman has been independently researching US foreign policy and peace since 9/11. Her channel focuses on US-Russian relations at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuNEw9-10lk-CwU-5vAElcg. Kristin graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with a BA in Russian, and she holds Master’s degrees in Slavic languages from Brown University and public administration from SUNY Albany. She has been a guest with former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter and UNAC coordinator Joe Lombardo on Cynthia Pooler’s program, Issues that Matter, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDlaLNJih7U. Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice recently published her article on suicide, culture, and peace in their special edition on suicide, Vol. 33 No. 4.  kristinchristman956@gmail.com

Notes:

[1] Gordon Allport, The Nature of Prejudice (New York:  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1979), 395-408.

[2] Damon Wilson, Testimony given to the US Senate Armed Services Committee, Hearing on the Implementation of the National Defense Strategy, Jan. 29, 2019, https://www.armed-services.senate.gov.

[3] Derek Mitchell, National Democratic Institute, Mar. 1, 2022, https://ndi.org.

[4] Democracy Now, Interview with Steve Cohen, “A New Cold War? Ukraine Violence Escalates, Leaked Tape Suggests US Was Plotting Coup,” Feb. 20, 2014, http://www.democracynow.org.

[5] Amnesty International, “Statement on Alexei Navaly’s Status As Prisoner of Conscience,” May 7, 2021, https://www.amnesty.org.

[6] Amnesty International, “Russian Federation 2021,” https://www.amnesty.org.

[7] Yale World Fellows Program, https://worldfellows.yale.edu.

[8] M. K. Bhadrakumar, “The Strange Case of Alexei Navalny,” Russia Beyond, https://www.rbth.com.

[9] Andre Damon, “The US Government and the Russian Election,” World Socialist Web Site, Dec. 27, 2017, https://www.wsws.org.

Alec Luhn, “Despite His Politicized Trial, Aleksei Navalny Is Still a Divisive Figure in Russia,” The Nation, July 22, 2013, https://www.thenation.com.

[10] Neta Crawford and Catherine Lutz, “Human Cost of Post-9/11 Wars: Direct War Deaths in Major United States War Zones,” Nukewatch Quarterly, Winter 2019-2020. Originally published in “Costs of War,” Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown Univ., posted Nov. 13, 2019, https://watson.brown.edu.

[11] German Marshall Fund of the United States, https://www.gmfus.org.

[12] Project for the New American Century (PNAC), “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.” Donald Kagan and Gary Schmitt, Project Co-Chairmen; Thomas Donnelly, Principal Author. Washington, DC, 2000), vii.

[13] Jeremy Herb, M. J. Lee, Alex Marquardt, and Zachary Cohen, “Democratic Concerns over Morell and Torture Scramble Biden’s CIA Decision,” CNN, Dec. 3, 2020, https://www.cnn.com.

Ken Dilanian, “Senate Staff Disputes Ex-CIA Official’s Defense of Torture,” Military Times, Jun. 2, 2015, https://www.militarytimes.com.

[14] Jessie Hellman, “Former CIA Chief: Russia’s Hacking ‘Political Equivalent of 9/11,’” Dec. 12, 2016, https://thehill.com.

[15] Andrew Buncombe, “Israel Intervention in US-Election ‘Vastly Overwhelms’ Anything Russia Has Done, Claims Noam Chomsky,” July 30, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk.

[16] Damon, “The US Government and the Russian Election.”


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