Mental escalators of violence in US policy and media makers – Part 4H. To authoritarian US policymakers, those who prefer international law to the US-led unipolar world are dangerous, undemocratic, and aggressive

False Bias #8: The Unipolar World Represents Democracy and the Free World, while Putin’s Disapproval of the Unipolar World Reveals His Dislike for Democracy and Freedom. We’ve been discussing the false idea promoted by US policy and media makers that the US promotes democracy and that Putin does not promote democracy. But let’s consider in this essay another element of democracy: adherence to just laws and equality before the law.

Note that in his 2007 speech at Munich, it is Putin, not the US, who calls for adherence to international law. In fact, it is precisely his concern for the fate of international law and the multilateral, universally ethical nature of international law that provokes him to disapprove of the “unipolar world” promoted by US policymakers.

Putin questions:

“However, what is a unipolar world? . . . it refers to one situation, namely one center of authority, one center of force, one center of decision-making.

“It is a world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.

“And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy. Because, as you know, democracy is the power of the majority in light of the interests and opinions of the minority.

“Incidentally, Russia—we—are constantly being taught about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves.

“I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible. . . . because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilization.”[1]

Putin’s ideas make sense. If there is one nation writing and enforcing the rules for everyone else, this is a dangerous situation. The writers of the US Constitution knew not to bequeath power to only one person or one group. They knew there should be checks and balances, which is why they established three branches of government that were supposed to stick to the powers granted them in the Constitution. There are also checks on power because some powers are granted to the national government, while the rest are assumed to belong to the states and the people.

Unfortunately, all this has changed over time, with the national government steadily expanding its power in relation to the states and the people, and, within the national government, the executive steadily expanding his power. It’s important to have power spread out because one person or group could be dominated by mad men, or, even if they’re not mad, they could be deluded, biased, or simply ignorant of a lot of things. They could be greedy and use that power to enrich themselves. They could be obsessed with themes of good guys vs. bad guys and wander the Earth, seeking to root out and kill “bad guys.”

For all these reasons, it’s important to spread out power, and it’s also democratic. Putin, likely referring to the US War on Terror which has directly killed more than 800,000 Middle Easterners,[2] speaks of the results of the introduction of the unipolar world:

“Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not resolved any problems. Moreover, they have caused new human tragedies and created new centers of tension. Judge for yourselves: wars as well as local and regional conflicts have not diminished. . . . even more are dying than before. Significantly more, significantly more!

“Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force—military force—in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible.

“We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?

“. . . . It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasize this—no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race.

“. . . . use of force should be a really exceptional measure, comparable to using the death penalty in the judicial systems of certain states.

“However, today we are witnessing the opposite tendency, namely a situation in which countries that forbid the death penalty even for murderers and other, dangerous criminals are airily participating in military operations that are difficult to consider legitimate. And as a matter of fact, these conflicts are killing people—hundreds and thousands of civilians!”[3]

Do you see that? Putin back in 2007 is condemning violence! He’s calling for a return to international law so that people can feel safe and be safe! This is not the voice of a conqueror, of a power-obsessed person seeking to raise his status and the status of Russia. He is speaking for world justice and humanity!

In fact, Putin’s principles and his rejection of the unipolar world make much sense to many people, including many Americans, particularly those in the peace movement on both the left and right-wing who despise US policymakers’ cavalier use of violence and US tax dollars to impose policies of greed and domination. But the US peace movement has been sidelined for two centuries by the so-called democratic government.

President Trump also had a good relationship with Putin, but the US propaganda machine labeled every single thing that Trump did as stupid. His friendship with Putin was smeared as a “lovefest,” and political cartoons showed them necking, which brings up another Mental Escalator of US Violence: insecurities about male identity. Playing on that theme like a harp, and borrowing, as usual, from middle-school social dynamics, the US propaganda machine suggested that any US leader who likes Putin is homosexual, with the accompanying implication that homosexuality is inferior.

But you won’t find anything but surly toughness in our macho US foreign policymakers and “think” tank “experts,” who, immersed in their competitive, dominate-him-before-he-dominates-me view of the world, all chime in together that Putin’s dismissal of the unipolar world was an unequivocal indicator—not of Putin’s sense of justice—but of Putin’s aggression, equivalent to the proclamation of a new Cold War. Eduard Spranger’s political lenses, once again, factor into the inability of US policymakers to perceive Putin’s criticism of a US-led unipolar world as anything but aggression. As described in Part 4B, those who tend to see the world through these lenses automatically see relations in terms of rivalry, domination, superiority, and inferiority.

A second related Mental Escalator of Violence in US foreign policymakers is also obstructing their ability to see international relations through the eyes of impartial justice: George Lakoff’s Strict Model. As described in Part 4B, those who adhere to this model automatically see relations in terms of rules given out by those on top, to be followed with unquestioning obedience by those not on top. Obedience to those on top is more important—a greater sign of morality even— than logic, understanding, caring, or equality.[4] And, once again, Allport’s Prejudiced Personality, also discussed in Part 4B, is clearly on stage with its characteristic, blame-flinging, its false projecting of blame onto others for being undemocratic, rather than finding fault with one’s own major absence of democratic behavior.[5]

A relevant article on Politico’s website was written by Daniel Fried, former US Ambassador to Poland and member of the Atlantic Council (NED’s current President Damon Wilson is also an Atlantic Council member), and Kurt Volker, former Executive Director of the McCain Institute of International Leadership and US special representative for Ukrainian negotiations until his 2019 resignation amidst the scandal pertaining to Trump’s involvement in pressuring Ukraine to release information about Joe Biden, information that would probably be quite interesting about now.

Fried and Volker describe Putin’s 2007 Munich speech in Politico as an event in which Putin issued “a broadside that definitely rejected the European security order many in his audience had spent years trying to build.” They write that Putin “accused the United States of creating a unipolar world ‘in which there is one master, one sovereign.’ He added, ‘at the end of the day this is pernicious.’” Fried and Volker’s quotes of Putin are accurate, but their implication—that Putin’s ideas are absurd—is itself absurd! The United States is creating a unipolar world in which there is one master, and such a world is pernicious!

We’ve already looked at PNAC’s calls to expand the already-existing American Empire in the earlier essay, Part 3C. But consider this article on the Brookings Institution website by James M. Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and Ivo Daalder, former US Ambassador to NATO (2009-2013) and president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The backgrounds and connections of the Brookings Institution, the CFR, and the Chicago Council are all tightly connected to the same social and business circles with the same obsessions and blindspots that have been running US foreign policy and running the world into the ground for two centuries. Daalder and Lindsay state:

“The real debate, then, is not whether to have an empire, but what kind. Shall America pursue a go-it-alone strategy as it did in 1910 when the United States exerted its power largely at the point of the bayonet and ignored the views of others? Or should it be the empire of 1950, when Washington embedded American power in multilateral institutions that reflected American interests but also constrained its freedom of action?”[6]

I criticize this quote in great detail with much supporting evidence in my unpublished works. But, in short, the idea that the empire of 1950 was somehow morally superior to that of 1910 is ludicrous, and the notion that US action in the 1950s, as represented by the millions of Koreans killed in the Korean War, is somehow “constrained” by multilateral institutions is a vicious lie. For purposes of this essay, note that these authors are not denying the American Empire. To them, it’s perfectly acceptable!

In their article on Putin’s 2007 Munich speech, Fried and Volker go on to say that “The real moment of revelation was his broader conclusion that the US-led liberal order, a.k.a. the Free World, was of no interest or value to Russia.”[7]  Actually, I did not see Putin making that remark anywhere in his speech. True, he was not interested in the US “use of hyper-force,” he was not interested in developing weapons in space, and he did not respect wealthy nations who “aid” the poor in ways that simultaneously enrich the wealthy corporations of donor nations.

Putin also condemned the US disdain for international law. Is this what Fried and Volker have in mind when they say Putin is not interested in the US-led liberal order? Are they referring to Putin’s rejection of the unipolar world, led by the US? And why is this bad? And why do Fried and Volker continue this stale labeling of the US-led order as the “Free World”? How is obedience to an empire a life of freedom? Perhaps their convictions that US rule is the essence of freedom is confusing their own minds, and making them believe that Putin, since he’s opposed to this US-as-the-master-rule, is therefore opposed to freedom, even though it is precisely freedom that is being squelched by the US-led order.

Fried and Volker claim that people had “invested substantial effort in working with Russia to include it in a post-Cold War global stability system.” Again, I think this matter should be evaluated impartially in international fact-finding hearings. According to the three speeches of Putin’s discussed in these essays, it is Russia that has proposed many ideas to further cooperation and security in Europe, but the US and Europe have repeatedly ignored and dismissed Russia’s efforts. In fact, Putin has implied that US President Clinton himself indicated that America would not be pleased with the idea of Russia joining NATO.[8] Putin was also extremely disappointed that the adapted Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe was not signed by anyone in NATO, even though the treaty was important because it reflected the Baltic States’ new membership in NATO. The original treaty places no obligations on Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to limit their missiles. So why do Fried and Volker say that it is Putin who rejected the European security order?

Fried and Volker then state that Russia’s current military build-up and actions in Ukraine are not surprising considering Putin’s Munich speech, which, in their eyes, was aggressive. Their interpretation again is shocking. Putin particularly condemned the US “use of hyper-force” in his speech. How can this possibly be considered a sign of aggression? It is condemnation of US aggression! One of Putin’s primary reasons for disliking the US-led unipolar world was the US “use of hyper-force,” which has directly killed hundreds of thousands of people and indirectly caused the deaths of millions of people! And Fried and Volker consider Putin aggressive for rejecting this order? This so-called “Free World”? They are convinced, somehow by his speech, that Putin is on a “dedicated path to build a greater Russia, an empire where the Soviet Union once stood.”

Fried’s and Volker’s claims are completely delusional. I challenge you, Readers, to find one scrap of evidence in Putin’s Munich speech that indicates a desire for empire or aggression. Absolutely nowhere in his speech does Putin even hint at the desire for empire or aggression. What they are seeing and hearing are the echoes of their own minds, minds immersed in a competitive, with-me-or-against-me view of life. They’re fighting shadows that are made by their own brains’ blackening out the light. Ever since at least the 1950s, those who do not agree completely with US policymakers’ ideas and obey their every demand are considered aggressive, malicious enemies. Since the 1950s, even neutrality in the Cold War and the War on Terror has been viewed by US policymakers as traitorous. US policymakers, with their obsessive demands for loyalty, like fraternity brothers forcing new converts to eat filth, demand excessive allegiance. This attitude is not only dysfunctional, it disrespects other nations’ sovereignty and their right to choose neutrality, and it is yet one more indicator of obsessive, imbalanced, irrational minds mishandling their anxieties.

Fried and Volker, unfortunately, aren’t the only ones. It’s pretty much everywhere you look in the US foreign policy and media maker establishment. Their social skills are absolutely horrendous, for they do not allow in their minds the concept that US foreign policy might be immoral, and so they think any foreign leader who rejects their ideas is a terrible, aggressive person. It’s actually a highly authoritarian view of international relations consistent with the characteristics of Allport’s Prejudiced Personality: “My Way or Off with Your Head because You’re a Dangerous Threat!” This intolerant authoritarianism, masquerading as democracy, is an enormous Mental Escalator of Violence.

How on Earth can these Americans, these “experts,” ever claim that they stand for democracy and that Putin doesn’t, when it is Putin who is standing up for international law and the rights of nations to their sovereignty, and it is these US “experts” and policymakers who wish to impose US rule about the world? Do they not understand what this unipolar world means? Or do they just assume, since US policymakers will lead it, that they’ll do the “right thing” because US policymakers are as innocent and good-hearted as homemade apple pie? Again, it’s likely that Allport’s Prejudiced Personality has so distorted their minds that they literally cannot comprehend the world realistically.

Putin’s advocacy for democracy is plain to see in his 2007 Munich speech, his July 2021 essay, and his Feb. 21 and 24, 2022 speeches. He calls for adherence to international law, for the containment of force, for only the rare use of violence, and for national governments that reflect the interests of their people, not the pecuniary interests of foreigners, and not the political goals of foreign NGOs. He also calls for a “democratic, fairer system of global economic relations, a system that would give everyone the chance and the possibility to develop.”[9]

It’s also possible that these US “experts” fear that Putin is seeking to make Russia a world leader because they actually see that Putin is caring about the people of the world, unlike US policymakers. Perhaps, deep down inside, they fear that Putin will become more popular worldwide because many of his ideas are genuinely more humane, logical, fair-minded, and democratic than anything promoted by US leaders. Certainly many Americans, particularly left-wing and right-wing Americans in the peace movement who are opposed to US foreign policy that exists to serve the financial interests of certain US social and business circles at the expense of all other Americans and foreigners, would definitely support several of Putin’s ideas regarding international relations. But we, like Putin, are silenced. We don’t count, right? Putin and we are all “undemocratic,” right?

Putin publicly recognizes the lack of morality and democracy in a world in which one state rules and one state’s use of force supersedes international law. But the US “experts” who are allowed to appear in mainstream news find no evidence of appreciation for democracy in Putin’s words. Instead, they see an adversary. His statements in Munich were taken as offensive, and the West then initiated a 15-year smear campaign against him, branding him an aggressive bully. Putin was the one who was condemning the US “use of hyper-force”! Putin was the one calling for nuclear disarmament! Yet anyone who criticizes the US is anti-democratic, because the US, no matter what the hell it does, IS democracy.

And to those US policymakers with authoritarian instincts, anyone who can’t be controlled through rewards and punishments, anyone who doesn’t cave into their bribes and intimidation is dangerous. Putin has not caved in, and so US policymakers label him as a dangerous, undemocratic aggressor.

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] Vladimir Putin, 43rd Munich Conference on Security and Policy, Feb. 11, 2007, https://russialist.org.

[2] 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.

[3] Putin, 43rd Munich Conference, Feb. 11, 2007.

[4] George Lakoff, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think (Chicago, Illinois:  The University of Chicago Press, 2002), 33-34, 67-69, 72.

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

[6] Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay, “American Empire, Not ‘If’ but ‘What Kind,’” Brookings Institution, May 10, 2003, https://www.brookings.edu.

[7] Daniel Fried and Kurt Volker, “Opinion: The Speech in Which Putin Told Us Who He Was,” Politico, Feb. 18, 2022, https://www.politico.com.

[8] Vladimir Putin, “Address to the People of Russia on the Donbas Problem and the Situation in Ukraine,” American Rhetoric Online Speech Bank, Feb. 21, 2022, https://www.americanrhetoric.com.

[9] Putin, 43rd Munich Conference, Feb. 11, 2007.


Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B. Subscribe to our Telegram channel


GET COUNTERCURRENTS DAILY NEWSLETTER STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX


Tags:

Comments are closed.