Character Assassination

Vladimir Putin is a bad guy. We just know that. How do we know that? Well, the TV says so. The TV also said that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and that there were incubator babies in Kuwait.

When the Cold War ended we were supposed to reap the peace dividend. Instead the United States continues to divert enormous resources to the war machine. The Cold War continues, and instead of Soviet Union the new Russia has become the target of hostility. The policy is based on the paranoid idea that Putin is about to restore a Soviet style dictatorship and attack the West. This perception is fostered by a war party coalition. It includes the neocons – deranged ideologues, former Trotskyists, the same people who brought communism to Russia in the first place; fascists who infiltrated the Republican party during the Cold War such as the Croatian Ustasha; and people corrupted by power, that is people who identify with America’s military might and are intoxicated with it. It is an odd coalition; what binds them together are similar objectives.

The American media are highly concentrated. There is only a handful of TV networks. When they collaborate we get an equivalent of Goebbels propaganda. If you hear every day on TV that Putin is a bad guy then it must be true, right? And if Putin is bad then anything he or Russia do, can and is interpreted as evil. It does not occur to most people to question the premise that Putin is evil. They do not realize that it is not Putin but the neocons spewing vitriol! How could that be? We, the Americans are the good guys after all, aren’t we? Unfortunately some Americans are not good guys; America has been hijacked by a gang of war criminals. They already started two wars under false pretexts and without Security Council authorization.

Shortly after the dissolution of the Soviet Union they started sending military contingents to Central Asia. That met with ambivalent reception as there is not much anti-Russian animosity in the region. Then they put their bets on the Islamist terrorists in Chechnya (who executed people with knives and posted the videos on line) hoping that they would destabilize Russia. That did not pan out. But the neocons finally found a way to stir trouble – the neo-fascists in Ukraine, descendants of the Banderovtsy.  The official line seems to be that these extremist groups do not exist.  They are only creation of Putin’s proaganda. We already know who the villain is. Naturally if Putin says that neo-fascist groups are there it means they are not there. Furthermore if you or I say that the neo-fascists are there we will be accused of spreading Putin’s propaganda. So the neo-fascists are not there, and any mentioning of them is taboo, even though they are there in front of our eyes.  All discussion is stifled. That is the structure of the war party propaganda. Just like in Iraq all the focus was on Saddam Hussein rather than the tens of thousands dying of disease and malnutrition, here all the focus will be on Vladimir Putin rather than the plight of the Russian speaking Ukrainian minority. I bet they will soon apply the epithet “Adolf Hitler” to the Russian President. It will be Adolf Hitler IV. It will also be a complete inversion of reality just like in Yugoslavia. The difference here is that the fascists groups operate more or less openly. So their existence is simply denied.

The modus operandi of the war party is character assassination. They demonize heads of states. Sometimes they use exaggerations (Saddam Hussein), complete fabrications (Slobodan Milosevic) or distortions (Vladimir Putin.) Once this happens very few people dare to dissent for fear of being perceived as siding with an enemy of the U.S. Of course, there would not be any enemy if the neocons did not make one. But after the war party injects poison it then devours its victim. They claim that without a war we would look like Neville Chamberlains appeasing those Hitlers. We have seen this in Yugoslavia and Iraq. But what is the end game here? A nuclear war? Russia will not back down when her vital interests are threatened.

Russia liberated herself from the communists, and should have been welcomed in the family of free nations. But no. The democracy in Russia is not good enough, and thus not acceptable to us. Only the neocons will decide when it does become acceptable. (Never.) In the meantime we still want you as an enemy! If you think about it, this is completely insane. Even though there is no Warszaw Pact, not even the Soviet Union we are supposed to believe that Russia is a military threat to us. After all, so was Saddam Hussein, who was about to attack us with drones choke-full of deadly chemicals. Putin could probably do a lot more damage. Nowadays there are regular elections in Russia, and tremendous progress has been made since the days of communism. But if you listen the the pundits you get the impression that the situation has only got worse. How did that happen? Well, the moment the Russians overthrew communism, the Vietnam war peaceniks turned on a dime and became ardent Cold War warriors! There are folks ready to pounce at anything. The press in Russia is government controlled, Putin imprisoned tax evading oligarchs, he imprisoned hooligans who desecrated a church, the courts are in his pocket (how do we know that?). Putin has done this single-handedly all by himself. Even if all these allegations were accurate it hardly adds up to a reign of terror. Nor is it immediately obvious that the neo-fascists are any more democratic. The war party applies perfectionist criteria to Russia while whitewashing the right-wing Ukrainian extremists.

And one more thing. You can hardly imagine this Russian horror, the U.S. newspapers are full of it – Russia does not permit homosexual marriage! But Pew Research Center conducted a survey in forty countries and found that 60% of the respondent find same sex marriage unacceptable. This is not a Russian specificum. Gay marriage is legal in only 13 countries. Eighty two countries have anti-homosexuality laws.  These include Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, India but not Russia. You never hear Afghanistan bashing for outlawing homosexual acts. Yet the absence of gay marriage in Russia is somehow a proof of the sinister nature of the regime. Terrifying! In the meantime we are friends with Saudi Arabia because “different countries move at different speeds”.

If Putin is so horrible who should be the President of Russia? The character assassins do not say. The reason is that it is not actually about the person of Vladimir Putin as they claim; it is about demonizing the person who sits in the office of the Russian President!

The U.S. policy towards Russia is completely absurd – creating an adversary for no reason. At the end the U.S. may create more adversaries than it can handle. Instead of defusing the crisis in Ukraine the war party seeks to exacerbate it. (We are not Neville Chamberlains, you know.) One has to wonder if the overt support for the neo-nazi Svoboda party is a deliberate provocation to elicit a response from Russia so Putin could be even more demonized and the conflict escalated. We have to get rid of the neocons! Otherwise they will turn America into a tyrannical empire. Tyranny abroad will be followed by tyranny at home. In the worse case they will blow up the entire planet.

Copyright © Thaddeus Hildebrand, 2014
This article may be copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes.

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