Mental escalators of violence in US policy and media makers – Part 4I. US “experts” falsely claim that a “prosperous, democratic Ukraine” is supported by the US and opposed by Putin

False Bias #9. Putin Feels Threatened by a “Prosperous, Democratic Ukraine.” Derek Mitchell is the President of the National Democratic Institute, one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for “Democracy.” One would hope that such an influential position would be used to further truth. But Mitchell instead makes wild claims about President Putin on the NDI website and in an article in The Hill.

Like so many other US “experts,” Mitchell perceives Putin as an enemy of democracy. But he goes one step further and writes that Putin “recognizes that if democracy can prevail in a country with which Russia has such historical, cultural, and linguistic affinity, it can prevail in Russia itself, at the expense of himself and his cronies.”[1]

Mitchell’s going out on another limb, a dead branch really. He’s now suggesting that Putin not only hates democracy but hates it so much that if it’s successful in a nearby Slavic land, he feels even more threatened because he doesn’t want it to exist in Russia! Does Mitchell have any evidence to support this claim? What is it? And is there evidence to refute the claim? I’ve seen no evidence in words or actions that Russia is opposed to democracy against Ukraine. I’ve seen no evidence that Russia fears a successful democracy within Ukraine or within itself.

In a just, intelligent court of law, such unsupported assumptions of an opponent’s guilt would be thrown out the window and Mitchell’s claim would not be accepted as truth without a full examination of all the evidence. We’re not in a court of law, but US policy and media makers audaciously and irresponsibly act as if they can accuse, prosecute, and sentence foreign leaders simply by means of US leaders’ speeches, headlines, and unsubstantiated claims. How can Mitchell be so irresponsible as to weave this storyline and provide the world with these unproven assumptions, assumptions that encourage US weapon shipments to Ukraine, war with Russia, and a coup of Putin?

This brings us to the major Mental Escalator of Violence that we’ve been discussing in these recent essays: falsehood. Again, while the falsehood could be a deliberate lie, it could also be prompted by psychological patterns, such as the black-and-white thinking described in Part 4B of Gordon Allport’s Prejudiced Personality.[2] Such engrained thinking could compel Mitchell to assume that US policymakers and their cohorts in Ukraine must stand for certain positive qualities, such as democracy, while Putin, according to the simplistic see-saw logic of black-and-white thinking, must oppose positive qualities. So instead of using evidence and logic to develop one’s theories, there’s merely this assumption that Biden and his allies and Putin and his allies are on opposite sides of the see-saw of morality and intelligence, which they may be, but that Biden is good and intelligent, and Putin is not.

Another psychological driver leading to this falsehood may be the political lenses described by Eduard Spranger in 1928 and discussed in the previous essay, Part 4B. Spranger defines six values, or lenses, through which people unconsciously tend to view life and human relations. Those who see life through political lenses are preoccupied with seeing life and human relations in terms of superiority and inferiority, domination, control, and status. Those who view life through these lenses would naturally be inclined to see themselves as better than some other group, hence the good vs. bad labels of black-and-white thinking and the strong tendency towards prejudice.[3]

Actually, Putin’s support for democracy and democratic principles is made clear in his speeches and his essay, including the 2007 Munich speech quoted in the previous essay. Yet all of these words have been falsely and grossly misrepresented by US policy and media makers. While it’s true that words could be different from actions, even Putin’s words seem to show a greater understanding of democracy than the words of US policymakers who equate democracy with capitalism and shallow, meaningless forms of elections.

With regard to the actions of international relations, where have we seen more democratic relations toward other nations and their people, the past 20 years of Putin or the past 20 years of US presidents? Consider Russian and US governmental behavior toward other nations in the realm of the military, politics, economics, and culture. Which nation’s government has had a more egalitarian view towards other nations and their people? Which nation’s leader was more capable of listening and understanding foreign perspectives? Who preferred to wage the undemocratic action of war for twenty years? These are questions worth evaluating in impartial, cooperative dialogue.

Keep in mind, with regard to recent behavior, it was Russia, not the US, that was trying to resolve the Ukrainian crisis non-violently at the Minsk Agreements. Russia was doing all it could to avoid military confrontation, to preserve Ukraine’s borders, and to guarantee safety for the people of Donetsk and Lugansk. The US government, meanwhile, was merrily shipping over billions of dollars in weapons since the 2014 US-supported coup in order to secure its puppet leader’s power and secure access to Ukraine’s wealth and resources in the Black Sea region. Were the Ukrainian, Russian, and American populations more in favor of the non-violent Minsk Agreements or the US weapon shipments? Did anyone ask them? Shouldn’t that be a part of democratic international relations—surveying the foreign population? Is it likely that US weapon shipments helped sabotage the Minsk Agreements, or not?

I don’t believe that Russia has been trying to destroy Ukrainian democracy at all, or whatever existed of democracy. The evidence as well as the US track record of worldwide smear campaigns and coups suggests that US policymakers are smearing Putin as anti-democratic because they’re angry with him, not for any alleged opposition to democracy, but because he stands in the way of their access to the profits, markets, and resources of Ukraine, the Black Sea region, and Russia. They’re angry with him because he stands in the way of the further expansion of the American Empire. Putin is not allowing US policymakers and businessmen to have hegemony over Ukraine and Russia. Personally, I believe this is why US policymakers are angry. In order to examine the facts and motivations intelligently and fairly, the entire issue of this smear campaign—complete with libelous statements made by US experts—should be examined promptly and impartially in national and international hearings.

In addition to claiming that Putin doesn’t want democracy to prevail in Russia, Mitchell writes in The Hill, “There is no greater threat to Putin than a prosperous, pluralistic and democratic Ukraine.”[4]

This sentence is an utter joke. In previous essays I’ve already addressed these accusations against Putin of being anti-democratic, so let’s primarily focus on the other two words: “prosperous” in this essay and “pluralistic” in the next.

Since its departure from the USSR, Ukraine’s prosperity has plummeted, thanks largely to internal corruption, including corruption during the rule of the US-supported Zelenskiy. As Putin points out in his July 2021 essay, Ukraine has become one of the poorest nations of Europe thanks to the actions of the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine’s decline into poverty is a source of great pain for Putin, not pleasure. Putin speaks again in detail in his February 21, 2022 speech about Ukraine’s great poverty, which has resulted from the corrupt Ukraine’s government embezzling the people’s money and from the activities of Western profiteers.

“According to international organizations, in 2019, almost 6 million Ukrainians—I emphasize—about 15 percent, not of the workforce, but of the entire population of that country, had to go abroad to find work. Most of them do odd jobs. The following fact is also revealing: since 2020, over 60,000 doctors and other health workers have left the country amid the pandemic.

“Since 2014, water bills increased by a third, and energy bills grew several times, while the price of gas for households surged several dozen times. Many people simply do not have the money to pay for utilities. They literally struggle to survive.

“What happened? Why is this all happening? The answer is obvious. They spent and embezzled the legacy inherited not only from the Soviet era, but also from the Russian Empire. They lost tens, hundreds of thousands of jobs which enabled people to earn a reliable income and generate tax revenue, among other things thanks to close cooperation with Russia. Sectors including machine building, instrument engineering, electronics, ship and aircraft building have been undermined or destroyed altogether.

“. . . This situation begs the question: poverty, lack of opportunity, and lost industrial and technological potential—is this the pro-Western civilization choice they have been using for many years to fool millions of people with promises of heavenly pastures?

“It all came down to a Ukrainian economy in tatters and an outright pillage of the country’s citizens, while Ukraine itself was placed under external control . . . from the Western capitals.”[5]

Putin is complaining precisely about corruption in Ukraine and the pillaging of Ukraine, yet, as we discussed in a previous essay, Damon Wilson, president of the National Endowment for “Democracy,” dares to pit Putin on the pro-corruption side. Meanwhile, Mitchell’s unsubstantiated idea that a prosperous Ukraine is a threat to Putin is based either upon deception or ignorance, for, unless Mitchell’s hiding all his supporting evidence, it’s absolutely false.

Moreover, it is Putin, who, in his 2007 Munich speech, condemns the hypocrisy of wealthy donors who seek to help the poor by taking from them:

“Today many talk about the struggle against poverty. What is actually happening in this sphere? On the one hand, financial resources are allocated for programs to help the world’s poorest countries—and at times substantial financial resources. But to be honest—and many here also know this—linked with the development of that same donor country’s companies. And on the other hand, developed countries simultaneously keep their agricultural subsidies and limit some countries’ access to high-tech products.

“And let’s call things as they are—one hand distributes charitable help and the other hand not only preserves economic backwardness but also reaps the profits thereof. The increasing social tension in depressed regions inevitably results in the growth of radicalism, extremism, feeds terrorism and local conflicts. And if all this happens in, shall we say, a region such as the Middle East where there is increasingly the sense that the world at large is unfair, then there is the risk of global destabilization.”[6]

The problems of which Putin speaks are highly significant. Agricultural subsidies to US farmers, for example, can destroy the possibilities for farmers elsewhere, such as in Mali, to sell their crops. The strings attached to loans and other forms of aid are extremely expensive strings that typically require the borrowing nation to purchase goods, often at expensive prices, from the donor nation, to reform their political and economic values to support the donor nation, and, increasingly, to support the donor nation’s military escapades. The injustice within this system of international trade eclipses any benefit from supposedly generous foreign “aid.”

Putin points to the poverty, lack of opportunity, and lost economic potential that seem to result from believing in pro-Western “promises of heavenly pastures.” He also notes the hypocrisy of pretending to aid people while taking from them at the same time. He’s on to some important points here, because when you look at US foreign policy over the past century, it becomes obvious that US foreign policy has become a tool for the enrichment of certain US corporations at the expense of foreign populations and the American people, who foot the bill for US foreign policy. If the wishes of those privileged corporations are thwarted by some foreign leader, you can be sure that that foreign leader will soon be portrayed in mainstream media from coast to coast as an evil person. Of course, the true story of corporate frustrations will be kept under wraps. Most likely, the foreign leader will be portrayed as an enemy of democracy, freedom, human rights, and civilization itself.

Consider US corporate relations with Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He’d made his fortune during a corrupt deal during the Yeltsin administration when he acquired 78 percent of the Yukos oil company, an estimated $5 billion value, for only $310 million, about one-sixteenth of its price. This “loans for shares” program of 1995 involved oligarchs, such as Khodorkovsky, loaning billions of dollars to the Russian government in exchange for shares in Russia’s most valuable state enterprises, which were auctioned off for a fraction of their real value. In reality, these auctions were fake because Yeltsin’s government had already decided which oligarchs would get what.

Part of the understanding of the program was that these oligarchs would then support Yeltsin, who had become extremely unpopular because of hyperinflation, the decline in law and order, the rise of the mafia and execution-style killings in the streets, and his drunkenness. Fortunately for Yeltsin, not only did the Clinton administration help ensure his re-election, but three of Russia’s major TV networks were owned by two oligarchs who smothered the news with pro-Yeltsin propaganda.[7]

In 2003, Khodorkovsky was involved in heavy negotiations with none other than the Rockefeller descendant, ExxonMobil, who, ever true to John D. Rockefeller’s obsessive desire to continually expand and take over others’ businesses and markets, wanted to purchase a controlling share in Yukos. Khodorkovsky, who knew Putin would have to approve the deal, urged ExxonMobil’s CEO Lee Raymond to accept a 30 percent share instead. Incidentally, as is typical for these social and business circles, Raymond later became a member of the board of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

On October 2, 2003, the New York Times ran an article, “Exxon May Offer $25 Billion for 40% of Yukos.” As if equating the decision to accept large-scale foreign investment in Russia’s natural energy resources with the moral goodness, friendliness, and economic astuteness of Russia’s government, and as if equating ExxonMobil’s economic growth with Russia’s economic growth, reporters wrote, “A successful outcome would send a clear signal about the willingness of Russia’s political leadership to accept large-scale foreign investment in a key natural resources group in plans to boost economic growth—in spite of national security reservations.”[8]

Raymond decided to meet with Putin himself. During the meeting, Putin, to make sure he understood Raymond correctly, asked whether Raymond was suggesting that after the sale, if Putin wanted to make any changes regarding Yukos, he would need ExxonMobil’s permission. Raymond responded that that was correct. Reportedly, Putin was highly repulsed by Raymond’s response, his attitude, and his arrogance.

Later that month, on October 25, 2003, the Russian police armed with machine guns stormed Khodorkovsky’s private jet and sent him to Siberia for about a decade and a half.[9]

If you look at US foreign policy towards any nation that’s nationalized US oil companies, such as Iran, Iraq, and Mexico, or, like Venezuela, rejected US investment proposals in its natural resources or made contracts with other nations instead, there’s a predictable pattern: that nation’s leader becomes US policymakers’ Enemy Number 1. In fact, Russia was the first to nationalize a US oil company in 1917 when the Bolsheviks came to power. Previously, betting that the Bolsheviks wouldn’t stay in power, Rockefeller’s Standard Oil had bought about half the Nobel Brothers’ stake in Baku’s oil fields in a deal that “gave Standard Oil control of about a third of the Russian oil output, 40 percent of the Russian refinery capacity, and about 60 percent of the internal Russian oil market.”[10]

I’d bet that Standard Oil had the ear of the US government, not only because of the century of tight Rockefeller-ties with US policymakers, but because promptly thereafter, between the years 1918-1920, the US government under President Wilson, a fan for intervening militarily in foreign nations, sent more than 12,000 US troops to Russia to take part in its civil war and try to keep the Bolsheviks from power.[11]

You have to wonder, if Putin, instead of arresting Khodorkovsky and sending him off to Siberia, had allowed Khodorkovsky to sell ExxonMobil 40 percent of Yukos, would America consider Putin an ally?[12] Just as Russian oligarchs flooded Russian airwaves with pro-Yeltsin propaganda, would American oligarchs flood US mainstream media with a very positive spin on Putin’s image as a pro-Western—read “pro-ExxonMobil”—kind of guy? In other words, if Putin allowed more powerful, wealthy Americans to profit from Russia and even play the corruption game, then would the powerful, wealthy Americans be telling us that Putin’s awesome?

Putin is condemned by US “experts” for this re-nationalization of key Russian enterprises, including the energy, defense, and banking sectors. Colonel Richard Anderson writes in his report that Putin is interested in these takeovers in order to gain political leverage in international relations. He considers this to be a result of the Soviet education and disdain for the private sector.[13] For some reason, it doesn’t occur to him that Putin—and probably the majority of Russians—don’t want a foreign company to profit off Russia’s resources to enrich itself at Russia’s expense or to gain political leverage over Russia itself.

In fact, it was a smart move to prevent the sale to ExxonMobil. Just look at how the US made the rules in Iraq so that foreign corporations could take all of their profits out of Iraq.[14] Look at how Nixon and Kissinger were concerned that, after a coup in impoverished Bolivia, Gulf Oil might be pressured to share more of the wealth it was taking from Bolivia with Bolivians.[15]

And US experts have the audacity to suggest that the US government actually cares about the foreign poor and that Putin doesn’t? Doesn’t it make sense that Putin wouldn’t want Khodorkovsky to sell to ExxonMobil? Such a sale wouldn’t have enriched Russians one bit, except for Khodorkovsky. You can bet it would have been an exploitative relationship. Are we supposed to assume ExxonMobil, the company that suppressed factual evidence on the effects of fossil fuels on climate change in order to save its own profits, was selflessly making a deal that would help Russians more than itself? If US oil companies’ business deals abroad are so selfless and fair, then why are foreign nations so eager to nationalize? It’s because they feel exploited by the US oil companies’ self-serving arrangements. It’s because they don’t like how US corporations use their economic leverage to meddle in the internal political affairs of host nations!

The condemnation of Putin for seeking political leverage is also entirely hypocritical. The US government uses financial and economic leverage all the time to bully other nations around. Look how it sanctions nations literally to death to get them to do what it wants. Look how it deliberately made the economy “scream” in Chile, just as President Nixon wanted, in order to create unrest in Chile and the groundwork for the coup against Salvador Allende, who’d nationalized the US copper company.[16] US policymakers are the kings of economic manipulation. But, hypocrites that they are, they consider any attempt by Putin to gain some leverage in foreign policy as ominous, sinister, and entirely inappropriate.

Don’t forget, as Gerald Sussman points out in the Monthly Review, backgrounds and connections of the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute, two core institutes within the National Endowment for “Democracy,” are closely tied with the right-wing American Enterprise Institute and Fortune 500 energy, weapons, media, and automobile companies, including ExxonMobil and Chevron Texaco.[17]

In fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists documents that in the years 1998–2006, ExxonMobil made $115,000 in contributions to the International Republican Institute, and in the years 1998–2014, ExxonMobil made $3,770,000 in contributions to the American Enterprise Institute, $830,000 to the Heritage Foundation, and $800,000 to the Manhattan Institute.[18] ExxonMobil also is a major donor to the German Marshall Fund, which initiated the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an organization committed to the downfall of Putin, as discussed in the previous essay, Part 4E.

The connections between ExxonMobil and US foreign policy were made even more blatantly clear by President Trump’s appointment of ExxonMobil’s CEO, Rex Tillerson, to the position of US Secretary of State. The appointment really just made obvious the tight connections that were already there. Moreover, ExxonMobil, along with several weapon manufacturers, contributes to the Center for a New American Security, whose CEO was Victoria Nuland until she became President Biden’s Undersecretary of State.[19] John D. Rockefeller believed in owning every organization in the chain of fossil fuel operations, including drilling companies, refineries, and railroads, in order to maximize profits. Owning government, media, and petrochemical companies, and controlling foreign policy, are the natural developments of this overall mission under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice thrown out the window.

Instead of writing fiction that Putin’s pride is Ukraine’s poverty and the resurrection of the Russian Empire, why not hold public national and international hearings regarding the role of the US government and Americans in pillaging Ukraine, in pillaging Russia under Yeltsin, and in keeping poor nations poor through these ridiculous, hypocritical programs to “help the poor”? Once again, I think Putin’s ideas are right on the mark, and US experts are either too ignorant to understand or they’re too scared of his intelligence and honorable intentions, for they see that he’s bringing up important topics never raised by US presidents.

Has any US president ever criticized US foreign aid for its expensive strings that help wealthy US corporations? Has any US president questioned the morality and justice of the way in which US corporations use the US government to serve their needs in the crafting of US foreign policy? Or is every single US president too much of a purchased puppet to speak out-of-line and against corporate wishes? Is this why only Putin can speak against the practice? Is this the real reason why Putin’s a threat?

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

[3] Allport, Nature of Prejudice, 439-40.

[4] Derek Mitchell, “Why Democracy Matters in the Ukraine Crisis,” The Hill, Feb. 8, 2022, https://thehill.com.  

[5] 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.

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

[7] Greg Rosalsky, “How ‘Shock Therapy’ Created Russian Oligarchs and Paved the Path for Putin,” Mar. 22, 2022, https://www.npr.org.

[8] Andrew Jack and Carola Hoyos, “Exxon May Offer $25 Billion for 40% of Yukos,” New York Times, Oct. 2, 2003, https://www.nytimes.com.

[9] Seth Mandel, “ExxonMobil’s Role in Oil Tycoon’s Arrest,” May 1, 2012, https://www.commentary.org.

[10] Lita Epstein, C.D. Jaco, and Julianne C. Iwersen-Neimann, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to: The Politics of Oil (Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books, 2003), 143-44.

[11] William Blum, Killing Hope, (London: Zed, 2014), 460.

[12] Jack and Hoyos, “Exxon May Offer $25 Billion for 40% of Yukos.”

Seth Mandel, “ExxonMobil’s Role in Oil Tycoon’s Arrest,” May 1, 2012, https://www.commentary.org. (These sentences pertaining to Khodorkovsky, Yukos, and ExxonMobil were added since filming the video.)

[13] Richard J. Anderson, “A History of President Putin’s Campaign to Re-Nationalize Industry and the Implications for Russian Reform and Foreign Policy,” Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Defense Technical Information Center, Feb. 8, 2008, https://apps.dtic.mil.

[14] Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, (New York: Nation Books, 2007), 68.

[15] Memoranda with Nixon, Kissinger, 40 Committee:  #79 September 26, 1969, #80 October 17, 1969, #93 October 7, 1970, #97 March 15, 1971, #101 June 11, 1971, #104 June 29, 1971, #105 July 6, 1971, #106 July 9, 1971, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume E-10, Documents on American Republics, 1969-1972, https://history.state.gov.

[16] James D. Cockcroft, Latin America: History, Politics, and US Policy (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1998), 541-54.

[17] Gerald Sussman, “The Myths of Democracy Assistance: US Political Intervention in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe, Monthly Review, Dec. 1, 2006, https://monthlyreview.org.

[18] Union of Concerned Scientists, “ExxonMobil Foundation and Corporate Giving to Climate Change Denier and Obstructionist Organizations,” accessed July 3, 2022, https://www.ucsusa.org.

[19] Center for a New American Security, Donor list, https://www.cnas.org.

 


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