Friday, September 13, 2013

Listen To The Whores In Church

Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in the NY Times has really gotten under the skin of our lawgivers. They are outraged — outraged, I tell you — that Putin has the temerity to lecture us about our foreign policy. He also criticized American exceptionalism, which is verboten here in the land of the free. “It is extremely dangerous, ” he wrote, “to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”

Well, our politicians were having none of that. “I almost wanted to vomit,” said Senator Bob Menendez. Many of his colleagues also chimed in to register their indignation. It was a bipartisan affair:
During a news conference Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner said, “I was insulted,” when he read Putin’s editorial.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he didn’t think Putin was trying to undermine the president on Syria with his op-ed but was instead “looking for an excuse to show off his Super Bowl ring.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in a tweet, called Putin’s words “an insult”: “Putin’s NYT op-ed is an insult to the intelligence of every American.”

Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla.,  said in an interview with CNN on Thursday that he too was not a fan of Putin’s piece: “I could hear Reagan turning over in his grave.”
First, a little historical perspective. As P.M Carpenter points out, twenty million Russians were killed in World War II by a country that encouraged its people to view themselves as exceptional, so the wicked Putin is making a serious point. Of course, I wouldn’t expect people like James Inhofe to stretch their minds that far. He is Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity’s intellectual equal (he thinks global warming is a socialist conspiracy).

 Frankly, the fact that John McCain is regarded as a foreign policy expert is an insult to the intelligence of every American. If we followed his advice we would have put ground troops into Serbia during Clinton’s splendid little war there, and we’d probably be at war with Iran right now. Metternich he ain’t. I’m a little surprised Joseph Lieberman hasn’t popped out of retirement to give us his two cents. This situation is tailor made for his uniquely nauseating brand of unctuous moralizing.

(Oops. I said “ground troops.” How retro of me. Apparently, the preferred term these days is “boots on the ground.” Question: When you put the boots on the ground, what side of the red line do you put them on?)

 Putin also says something that I think most readers of this blog would probably agree with:
It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”
Is that untrue? The fact that Putin is an authoritarian gay-basher is irrelevant here. There is not a single word in that paragraph that is false. The United States does rely too heavily on brute force. We do have a “your either with us or against us” mentality. It’s perhaps not quite as bad as it was during  the Bush-Cheney Dark Ages, but it’s still there. We do involve ourselves in foreign civil wars, and we have nothing to show for it but a growing list of spectacular failures. Our foreign policy thinkers are forever bleating about credibility and sending messages, as if every one else in the world is a little child who looks exclusively to the US for all of their cues on how to think and behave. Well, nothing ruins your credibility more quickly and completely that military defeat.

Putin has taken our measure and concluded, correctly, that we are bunch of self-important dullards and phonies. He’s running circles around us. Odd that our politicians should be so offended. Their hero is Henry Kissinger, who is every bit as hypocritical and callous as Putin.

Isn’t it rich seeing our pompous leaders wax indignant? These are the same morally upstanding optimates who brought us the USA Patriot Act, the invasion of Iraq, and Wall Street bailouts. They are presiding over a country that is experiencing third world levels of inequality and show very little inclination to change it. They countenance waterboarding, extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo Bay, drone strikes, targeted assassinations, and NSA spying. Their entire careers are built on a system of legalized bribery that makes a used condom seem clean by comparison. What moral exemplars they are!

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