Mental escalators of violence in US policy and media makers – Part 4G. Black-and-white thinking and needs for noble purpose bring the domino theory back to life

False Bias #7. Putin Is Using Ukraine As a Testing Ground for His War against Democracy. One would imagine that Derek Mitchell, president of the National Democratic Institute, one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for “Democracy,” would understand the importance of truth in democracy. Springing from the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment, the European form of democracy valued the necessity of access to the truth so that people could have the wisdom to make intelligent decisions.

But instead of promoting the truth, Mitchell, on the NDI website and in his article on The Hill, comes to highly questionable, unsubstantiated conclusions about Russia which he proclaims as if they were uncontested truths: “NDI has witnessed how Russia has used Ukraine as a testing ground for its attacks on democracy elsewhere—including the United States. As such, NDI has understood that Ukraine is a pivot point in the global struggle for democracy.”[1]

Mitchell is not only falsely claiming that Putin is attacking democracy itself, he’s also telling Americans and the world that Putin is using Ukraine as a test and this is a pivot point. His implication is that if Russia is successful, if the US and NATO fail to send enough weapons to Ukraine to crush Russia or perhaps even to topple Putin, Russia will use its success as a signal to expand and do more such “tests” in other nations, including the United States.

Actually, it’s much more likely that the US is using the conflict as a testing ground for its various weapons, including its alleged biological weapons there. Recall PNAC’s document, described in Part 3B, which stated with enthusiasm the prospects of possessing and using US biological weapons that could attack specific genotypes—entire ethnic groups, presumably.[2] Honestly, being in this world with such madmen at the helm of the US government is a waking nightmare that evidently is just going to get worse. And, as Scott Ritter points out in Russia Today, US policymakers’ consideration of possible plans to dispatch to Ukraine MQ-1C Grey Eagle drones capable of firing Hellfire missiles at Russians are most likely for the purpose of testing their ability to operate in high-intensity battle.[3]

Mitchell’s assertion, uttered as if it were solid fact, that Russia is using Ukraine as a testing ground is an utterly bizarre and irresponsible accusation, especially on the part of someone who is the president of an institute calling itself democratic. His assertion will certainly galvanize some readers to believe that more and more weapons must be sent to Ukraine in order to defeat Russia at all costs. Otherwise, doom and gloom and unending Russian invasions and conquest!

How is it possible that a nation such as the US, supposedly founded upon law, can get away with having Putin basically tried—really prosecuted and judged with no defense—on the pages of websites and newspapers? How can Mitchell so easily get away with what’s he’s saying without a thorough evaluation of his words? US experts’ unchecked promulgation of lies and ignorance is a Mental Escalator of US Violence. Furthermore, this substitution of US policy and media experts’ skewed, distorted, and uniformed judgments for a real court of law is a Legal Escalator of Violence. Shouldn’t Putin and Americans have the right to be protected from libelous statements made against them? Or is that not part of the American sub-version of democracy?

Let me repeat: democracy rests upon the idea that people have access to truth to help them make wise decisions to govern themselves. But there’s absolutely no evidence that I have come across in any of my readings or in observing Russia’s behavior to suggest that it is using Ukraine as a testing ground with designs for more plans elsewhere. What evidence does Mitchell have? What evidence is there that Russia is destroying democracy abroad more than the US government is destroying democracy abroad? And what evidence is there to the contrary? Mitchell’s claim is reckless because it goads US hostility and hatred towards both Putin and Russia and pushes us all closer to nuclear war. Mitchell should never make such a claim and state it as if it were truth, especially in the influential position he is in, as president of NDI.

Mitchell’s theory of the “testing ground” is as bad as the “domino theory” of the Cold War. In fact, it is the domino theory, which has been discredited as false. State Department policymaker George Kennan, who created the ungrounded policy of containment, wrote at the time that, like the Energizer bunny who keeps on walking, mechanistic Soviet power “moves inexorably along a direction, stopping only when it meets some unanswerable force.”[4]  But, in fact, the USSR was not going after nation after nation, with plans to topple one after another. Kennan himself admitted years later that US policymakers had become terribly carried away by their overactive imaginations. He

“later concluded that Americans, especially military planners, exaggerated Soviet behavior and created ‘the image of the totally inhuman and totally malevolent adversary’ and ‘reconjured [it] daily, week after week, month after month, year after year, until it takes on every feature of flesh and blood and becomes the daily companion of those who cultivate it, so that any attempt on anyone’s part to deny its reality appears as an act of treason or frivolity.’”[5]

Yet this theory, this Soviet bogeyman supposedly hiding under the bed, served as a false pretext for US militarization, coups, and military attacks upon multiple nations. It cost Korea millions of lives in the 1950s, and that was just one peninsula that suffered from US foreign policymakers’ uncontrolled, irrational anxiety. Like the domino theory, Mitchell’s theory that Ukraine is a testing ground is an indicator, not of truth, not of actual circumstances, but of the psychological limitations and distortions of which the human brain is capable.

It was stupid enough that US policymakers should fall for such an ignorant belief about the USSR during the Cold War, but they’re doing it again now! And their stupidity is costing lives now just as it cost lives then. But for US policymakers and their irrational anxieties, all of these deaths (of other people, not themselves, naturally) are worth it to defeat the evil that doesn’t even exist! They’re truly mad men.

Mitchell then asserts: “Ukraine is Exhibit A that President Biden was correct in calling the struggle between autocracy and democracy a defining challenge of our time.”[6] Like Damon Wilson, president of the National Endowment for “Democracy,” Mitchell sees US conflict with Russia as a Forces of Light vs. Forces of Darkness type of battle. It’s reminiscent of John Foster Dulles, former Secretary of State for President Eisenhower, and Henry Luce, his close friend and owner of Life, Time, and Fortune. These two, both strongly influenced by missionaries in their families, were convinced, in a zealous missionary-type of way, that defeating “godless atheist Communism” was the challenge of their time ordained by God. And Luce’s media empire could promulgate unchecked “truths” to millions of Americans.[7]

This brings us to another Mental Escalator of Violence in US foreign policymakers: the personal need for a noble, even holy purpose, the quest for a positive identity and significance, and the belief that they’re walking a divine path. It’s also one of the categories of the Roots of Violence in the Paradigm for Peace model: the need to fulfill Self-Potential. While the need for a noble, holy purpose and positive identity aren’t themselves bad and can be quite healthy and beneficial, they’re definitely bad if one misjudges the goodness of one’s path and dresses up evil with a bride gown of goodness and innocence and then places it on a galloping horse with blinders who only runs straight ahead to the finish line of victory.

Those who believe their killing serves a holy purpose can be capable of the worst and most massive types of killing, for their moral qualms are all pushed aside by a seemingly holy hand. Even questioning the correctness of their course is not allowed in their minds, for such questioning could seem blasphemous to God and also threatening to their own sense of personal status and self-esteem.

For John Foster Dulles and Henry Luce, their mission against the USSR seemed to give them a sense of purpose and a holy feeling of being on the side of good. After all they were killing evil. Or, at least they thought they were. It didn’t really matter to them if they intelligently determined whether they were fighting evil or not, the important thing was to fight it and feel good about it! And for Dulles’ brother, Allen Dulles, who was the director of the CIA, fighting the Soviets served his personal psychological needs for adventure, excitement, and non-stop stimulation.[8]

Getting back to Mitchell’s quote, on what basis can Mitchell possibly state that the current crisis is a struggle between democracy and autocracy? What is his evidence? What evidence does he have that the US political system is democratic rather than plutocratic or kleptocratic? What evidence proves that the US promotes democracy abroad rather than plutocracy or kleptocracy?

We’ve already talked about these issues at length in earlier essays, but how would Mitchell account for the highly undemocratic actions taken by the CIA and NED, as described in the previous essays, Parts 3A, 3B, and 3C? What evidence does he have that Putin is promoting authoritarianism abroad? And, even if he has some evidence for any of his claims, what evidence exists to refute his point of view? You can’t just allow prosecutors against Putin to influence US foreign policy. Where is the defense? Where is the impartial jury and judge? Do US policy and media makers such as Mitchell believe that justice isn’t a part of democracy? Any fair and well-intentioned argument, especially in a democracy, needs to show all sides of the story and all perspectives, a point duly ignored by the so-called “democratic” US policy and media makers.

I’m tired, more than tired, furious at these US “experts” who make proclamations without evidence, or, if they give some sort of evidence, they ignore evidence to the contrary. Their judgments are putting a lot of people’s lives at risk, most notably, Russians, Ukrainians, and Putin’s. Before becoming a US expert, policymaker, or media maker, shouldn’t people be required to pass some sort of written or oral test showing abilities to use logic, evidence, and proof so that we can trust they won’t airily spring to conclusions?

Their behavior is absolutely ludicrous, especially in a nation that supposedly values education so much. Why even teach the scientific method? Why offer evidence for arguments in essays and proof for math equations? Why learn to document sources? Why not just make up everything? Or, better yet, why bother with education at all? What we read isn’t even true. That would be a great way to solve the student loan crisis. Don’t bother going to college. Don’t do your homework in school. Frankly, if you want to make a difference, just take the responsibility to read on your own and spend your time, not taking courses and doing assignments that won’t even make the world a better place, but refuting the falsehoods you see all around delivered by US policy and media makers, the falsehoods and greed that are destroying the planet.

US experts in accord with the anti-Putin campaign proclaim opinions that are consistently shallow at best and absolutely false at worst. Their claims may have verbal logic, the nouns and verbs all make sense grammatically, and there is a surface logic that holds together if read carelessly. But once you look at the underlying meanings of the words and the facts and circumstances, that’s where the logic falls apart. Is this the outcome of a US college education?

And, again, a major problem, another Mental Escalator of Violence, is that I don’t think US policy and media makers even take the time to read Putin’s material. US culture has encouraged such a loathing for any writing beyond about 500 words, that Americans are reluctant to read more than one page. Perhaps there’s been a deliberate push to make Americans as stupid as possible or as busy as possible with their multiple jobs and pursuit of college that they’re willing to accept brief, shallow summaries of events. Yet Putin’s essay and speeches, when printed out, are each about 7,000 words long—evidently far too long and substantial for the American policy and media maker’s mind to grasp.

I normally wouldn’t put people down for their dislike for reading or for their poor reading comprehension skills. We all have different strengths and interests. However, if these people are in positions where they’re supposedly qualified to tell the world what Putin said and wrote, then their ignorance and inability to read and comprehend become extremely dangerous, irresponsible, and cruel.

Instead of taking the blame for not being able to read and comprehend a 7,000-word essay, some US experts seem to vaguely imply that the length of these essays is a fault of Putin’s, a sign that he’s off-balance and unhinged, rather than an indicator of intelligence, passion, or dedication. In fact, Putin’s essay and speeches are filled with valuable information, excellent ideas, and honorable goals. But these US experts, evidently, who claim to have the right to talk about Putin’s goals, attitude, and words, seem to read at most a few paragraphs, don’t even get those right, and then fizzle out. And this is the society that wants to rule the world.

All that said, US experts no doubt have different reasons for their inability to accurately represent Putin’s words. Are some US experts deliberately lying and covering up the proof of Putin’s honorable, democratic intentions by not reporting on his true words? Are others affected more by their tendencies to parrot one another and conform to groupthink? Both lies and mindless groupthink are certainly Mental Escalators of Violence in US foreign policy and media makers.

But there’s likely more to it than that. As mentioned previously, are others’ brains so distorted by the black-and-white thinking of Gordon Allport’s Prejudiced Personality that they automatically, adamantly assume that the US must be the good guy supporting democracy and Putin must be the bad guy seeking to destroy it? Are their brains stifled by other Prejudiced Personality characteristics?

As described in Part 4B, other relevant cognitive traits include selective perception: seeing and remembering that which supports what one already thinks. Another trait is the simplification of memory traces: remembering in an erroneously simplified way. Both of these could explain why US experts are perhaps unconsciously forgetting or ignoring about 90 percent of what Putin is saying and then twisting the remaining 10 percent. Both of these have also been proven to exist at a deep cognitive level, not only the political level. In experiments in which various groups are given the task, for example, of remembering and re-drawing an irregular shape that they were shown earlier, those with the Prejudiced Personality are more inclined to make the shape more regular and even, to not recall the nuances of variation.

Another Prejudiced Personality characteristic is also relevant: the need for definiteness, not ambiguity.[9] It’s possible that some people’s brains, as smart as they may be in some areas, automatically assume that if Putin does not like US foreign policy, he must hate democracy. To understand that Putin’s disapproval of US foreign policy could actually stem from the fact that US foreign policy is not democratic might be too much to comprehend. I don’t say that derogatorily, for these people making our policy may be doing their very best, they literally may not be able to think more accurately.

However, while we should have compassion for these people, again, it’s a sure sign that such minds absolutely do not belong in the driver’s seats of foreign policy. This level of thinking is extremely simplistic and erroneous, and it’s also dangerous. In addition to characteristics of greed, selfishness, and deceit, it may play a small or large part in what’s preventing the ability of US foreign policy to attain its potential of intelligence, peace, justice, and international positive relations.

I would also strongly suggest an enormous increase in public awareness of these psychological patterns, a careful prevention of allowing certain patterns to be in the driver’s seat of any nation’s foreign policy, and, at the same time, a non-hostile, non-derogatory attitude towards individuals with these psychological patterns. I would think, if experiments with drawing shapes and viewing drawings of cats gradually turning into dogs[10] can all demonstrate the presence of various psychological patterns, then perhaps certain types of cognitive exercises could help people, especially at a young age, learn to overcome the most damaging and inaccurate aspects of their thinking patterns.

Even within the current administration, cognitive experts could run workshops to help people identify with compassion the limits of their own brains, so that they might learn how to individually compensate for these weaknesses, or so that, working as a team, they might be able to compensate for one another’s weaknesses rather than cave into them. Certainly, there must be strengths of mind, heart, body, and spirit as well in those who have these constrictions on their brains, for usually, people come armed with both strengths and weaknesses. These strengths can surely be recognized. At any rate, implementing such workshops, cognitive exercises, and thoughtful teamwork that takes into account cognitive strengths and weaknesses would be more useful than meekly allowing uncooperative, unnecessarily hostile and competitive attitudes to continue to drive US foreign policy. Such exercises in cognitive awareness and thoughtful teamwork would also be more useful than merely heckling as idiots those who have these personalities.

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

[2] 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), 60.

[3] Scott Ritter, “The US Is Trying to Use Ukraine As a Test Lab for Its Drones, a Move Russia Is Unlikely to Forget,” Russia Today, Jun. 12, 2022, https://www.rt.com.

[4] Thomas G. Paterson, J. Garry Clifford, and Kenneth J. Hagan, American Foreign Policy: A History Since 1900 (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1991), 452.

[5] Paterson, Clifford, and Hagan, American Foreign Policy, 463-64.

[6] Mitchell, National Democratic Institute, Mar. 1, 2022.

[7] Stephen Kinzer, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013), 8-10, 79.

[8] Kinzer, Brothers, 22-23, 35-36, 61-64, 68-69, 74, 86, 93, 115-16.

[9] Gordon W. Allport, The Nature of Prejudice (New York: Addison-Wesley, 1979), 400-401.

[10] Allport, Nature of Prejudice, 402.


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