The West, NATO and a dark Manichean vision
With thanks to Nat South
“There, a year of massacres and horror. Here, a year of easy exaltation and filthy Manichaeism. A year repeating the worst mistakes of a West so sure of its moral superiority, so intoxicated with its narrative. A year to leave the podium open to the most forceful representatives of neoconservatism, this current of thought that, from the United States to Europe, has as its record, in the name of the “clash of civilizations”, the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq, chaos, torture and slave markets in Libya. Has it been a year since agressing the regression of democratic debate and critical thinking at a time when President Macron himself is regularly called to order by zealous Atlanticists who really do not see why fighter jets are not immediately delivered to Ukraine and who consider as Putinist, anyone who reminds them that the Americans themselves are seeking to avoid escalation and a generalized war? How sweet it is to take yourself as André Malraux or Jean Moulin! How comfortable it is to see the world in black and white!”
Source: Marianne 22/02/2023
Streaks of Manichaeism have a propagandistic purpose that most people in the West readily accept without question. How comfortable it is to see the world in black and white!” Overall attitudes shaped by politicians, leading experts, commentators, and MSM, have the tendency to view the world as a dualistic entity. It is deeply ingrained into the US and European society and it is clearly evident in how Ukraine is covered by not only the MSM but politically too. There are many takes alluding to neo-Manichean ideas to underpin the narratives at play so well. Here are a couple as starters:
Ukrainians are fighting valiantly for their homeland — for their sovereignty, and for their territorial integrity. They are also fighting for all of us, because they are fighting for democracy itself. Anita Anand, Canadian goverment official.
“In the battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security.” President Biden State of the Union speech March 2022
Good versus Evil
The Ukrainian conflict also represents well the Manichean vision, in that anyone advocating for peace, appeasement, anyone remotely quibbling about the presence of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists or war crimes, someone who disseminates “Kremlin talking points” is someone that is not on the side of good or democracy or freedom.
A disturbing aspect is the Hitler/Churchill/ Stalin takes or memes thrown around by Western MSM, on social media and politicians, as part of the overall effort to propagandize people, and in a mad scramble to vigorously implement another hot “Cold War”. It is getting staggeringly worse as the West is also shifting to include China in its Manichean vision of alleged despotism as well. One sample here, duly represented as a vile villain.
“Rules-based international order”
The “good side” is encapsulated by the term, ‘Rules Based Order’, instigated by the US. So what is the “rules-based order” about, other than to present themselves as virtuous while others just have nefarious intent? In a nutshell, this allows Washington to be the sole and overriding authority, (with a few select examples):
- Invade countries (Iraq, Afghanistan)
- Occupy countries: (Iraq, Syria)
- Organise coups (military and soft) since 1945 — (Bolivia, Peru)
- Willfully attack their own allies (Germany, Europe, and Nord Stream)
- Appropriate other countries’ assets, (Libya, Iraq, Syria)
Basically, Washington can make new rules when it suits them, break or ignore any rule whenever they want and then threaten or sanction to the hilt any country that dares to disobey their diktats. The state of play when the West lets Washington plan regime changes, plan military ‘interventions’ as part of the Monroe Doctrine. Here, Pompeo writes about Venezuela:
The “Rules-based order” is literally a replay of Manichean beliefs, where the West paints themselves as the light, battling it out for supremacy against imagined darkness. Throughout post-war II, the West has a roll call of suitable nemeses: Castro, Kim Jong-il, Ghadaffi, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Chavez, Assad, Maduro now Putin.
The engineered demonization of leaders and societies is crudely crafted by the MSM, think tanks, and politicians. At first, it can be conveniently transposed onto the head of state, rather than the people. Just look at the cover of magazines or headlines in newspapers to get a gist of the evil-looking cartoons or name-calling. However, the distinction between labeling a leader evil and then collectively demonizing the people of a country because they live in a pariah state is very sketchy.
Not only is it self-perpetuating but it ensures that the general population can easily be spoon-fed a diet of simplistic takes, “we’re the virtuous ones, they are the evildoers”.
Cue the justification for Western intervention and sanctions because country Y has a regime/ nasty dictator / nasty dangerous weapons/ terrorists that is deemed as security risk to Washington and NATO.
“Massively bomb to get peace”. Peace can be achieved if it is on US and NATO terms. Now, the durability of the casting of Serbs back in the 90s as bad people still resonates these days.
As such the West gets people like Assange incarcerated in high-security jails, Washington opened torture black sites & carried kidnappings & rendition flights around the globe, as the morally superior ones, simply because the other side is presented as evil, as a terrible enemy. People aren’t allowed to debate or ask fundamental questions about the US “war on terror”, about the Iraq ‘intervention’, about the Libyan ‘intervention’.
The infowar surrounding Ukraine now has been taken to another level and it is absolutely surreal. No questions, no quibbles, no dissent, just the stenographer narrative endlessly pushed out.
“Vladimir Putin and his accomplices have made one thing clear: this war is not only against Ukraine. They see their war against Ukraine as part of a great crusade, a crusade against liberal democracy, against the rules-based international order, (…) against freedom and progress, (…) against our way of life, and a crusade against what Putin calls the ‘collective West.’ He means all of us.” .” Olaf Scholz Reuters October 2022
Notice the framing of a crusade. Interesting way of framing it when it was the Byzantine Empire and Russia who were on the receiving end of some European crusades. Russians were attacked by Crusaders in 1240 and 1242, in what is known as the Livonian campaign.
This news item slid by very quietly this week, yet it begged a multitude of questions about what exactly it means to support “freedom and progress” as Scholz said. Nothing, no shame, and no comments on how this was allowed to happen. Nothing, just a void of awkward silence. Yet, it is highly indicative of the state of play, when the so-called leading country cast in Manichean terms as on the good side, can kidnap, imprison and torture someone and hold someone in inhumane conditions for 20 years, yet this is a core part of the rules-based international order.
Injustices, atrocities, and war crimes. Washington likes to use war crimes in their Manichean struggle, but only if it applies to other countries.
“The United States threatened Monday to arrest and sanction judges and other officials of the International Criminal Court if it moves to charge any American who served in Afghanistan with war crimes.” France 24
Recently, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin summarised the situation regarding Washington:
“The US is the “top disrupter” of international rules and order, with hegemony being the “hallmark” of its approach to international affairs.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry went further and published a report condemning, (much to the disgust of Washington), the various aspects of US hegemony.
US hegemony and the deceit of a rules-based order
Firstly, it isn’t international, but a combination of the US, NATO, 5 Eyes, and proxies who just happen quite a few US military bases on their territory, (South Korea, Japan). In fact, it is a surreal blend of Neo-colonialism, (Monroe Doctrine), and adherence to Manichan principles, wrapped up in the Wolfowitz doctrine.
The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. Wolfowitz 1992
In other words, the Washington playbook is rigidly set, done to maintain the hegemony, a modern rendition of “Manifest Destiny”.
- The number one objective of the U.S. post-Cold War political and military strategy should be preventing the emergence of a rival superpower.
- Another major U.S. objective should be to safeguard U.S. interests and promote American values. If necessary, the United States must be prepared to take unilateral action.
The doctrine set out that the most important issue is “the sense that the world order is ultimately backed by the U.S.”
The Russian angle — rinse and repeat
The “Russia is bad” narrative is a long-running situation as this cartoon clearly shows: Civilisation (Britannia) versus Russia back in the late 19th century.
Don’t be fooled by the moral superiority, or the values espoused by the so-called “Rules-based order” or the “International Community of values”. Don’t be fooled by the Western MSM telling you a story of Russian imperialism or revanchism. Study this excerpt from the Wolfowitz doctrine: “convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests”.
The West supported NATO enlargement in 1996 when Russia wasn’t at all threat to NATO. Yet NATO expanded and expanded and expanded. It was an era of unbridled US unipolarity, so the question of NATO enlargement was done even wanting Russia on board. The open-door policy between Russia and NATO was great on paper, with some limited outcomes. In reality, it was very creaky, a jammed door that was designed to be opened one way.
In 1996, Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin told the UK Prime Minister at the time, John Major that NATO expansion “would create a fragile situation which could explode.” It “would recreate volatility in Europe, just when peace and stability had been re-established. Russia was not an enemy now but could become one.”
“For nearly 50 years, NATO has defended democracy against communism and other forms of tyranny in Europe. Despite that success, many Americans will never forget the betrayal at Yalta which left millions of Europeans behind enemy lines.” US Congress document 1997
NATO is a key part of the “Rules-based order”, the Soviet Union was considered the enemy.
Washington was well aware of the high-level Russian official attitudes, such as Chernomyrdin’s, but kept insisting on moving forward with NATO enlargement, as some kind of catharsis process and to bring to bear US hegemony in a more consolidating way.
This is evidenced by none other than, Joe Biden, a senator in a speech at the Atlantic Council, in 1997, in which he warns that the Baltic states, joining NATO could result in a hostile reaction from Russia.
“I think the one place where the greatest consternation would be caused in the short-term for admission [to NATO], having nothing to do with the merit and preparedness of the country to come in, would be to admit Baltic states now in terms of NATO-Russian, US-Russian relations,” Joe Biden June 1997
He also claimed that Russia would eventually see the expansion of NATO as actually also in their interest, regarding security. The Baltic States joined NATO in 2004. Biden also said mockingly ”Then the Russians said to me, ‘If you continue to expand NATO; We should make friends with China. ‘ I almost laughed; I can hardly control myself. I said, “Good luck to you. If you can’t do it in China, try Iran.”
“Further, we must resist any temptation by the leadership of our country to rush forward into an ill-considered NATO partnership with Russia.” US Congress debate 1997 on NATO enlargement. Henry Kissinger said that NATO enlargement was needed to ‘‘discourage Russia’s historical policy of creating a security belt of important and, if possible, politically dependent states around its borders.’’ Nowadays, it is the complete inverse, with US-led politically dependent states hostile to Russia around its borders.
Much talk in Washington was dedicated to the potential threat of Russia and the need for “a central strategic rationale for expanding NATO must be to hedge against the possible return of a nationalist or imperialist Russia, with 20,000 nuclear missiles and ambitions of restoring its lost empire.” So all of those Washington experts, and advisors, fed on the Cold War narrative, just kept plugging away at recycling intergenerational takes on ‘imperialist Russia’, while fully endorsing US exceptionalism without a twinge of self-awareness.
Add this perspective to the US hegemonic Wolfowitz doctrine, combined with the “rules-based order”, and you get a powerful toxic mix. Not content with expanding US’s grip on Europe via NATO membership, in October 2005, Donald Rumsfeld while attending a meeting in Lithuania with the Defense Minister of Ukraine and vowed US support for Ukraine joining NATO. He was flanked by none other than Victoria Nuland.
Digging a little deeper: NYT article in 1998, US arms manufacturers promoted their cause to Washington, so as to get billions of dollars of arms contracts. Fast forward to 2022, the exact same beneficiaries are raking in the money by supplying NATO and Ukraine with lucrative arms contracts.
In essence, late 90’s Washington wore the mantle of hubris with arrogance, as the self-proclaimed victors of the Cold War and as such as position themselves as those exclusively dictating their terms and stipulations to Russia. Framed as the ‘West holding all of the cards”. A flavor of this is hinted at in the documents mentioning ‘managing Russia’, in the same way as Russia was being managed economically by Washington financial experts in a devasting way.
The mindset of Washington, of those who won the Cold War, would essentially have not been able to accept Russia into NATO, primely on ideological grounds. In that way, it was easier for Washington to craft the narrative of a potential threat of “imperialist Russia” to replace the expired threat of communism. The raison d’être of NATO was an anti-communist alliance set up in 1949 “to provide collective security against the Soviet Union”. The structure and legacy of this organization had in its earliest days, in its highest ranks, top-level ex-Nazi officials and military, who were vehemently anti-communist and by default anti-Russia. Elements of nazism ideologies were distilled and shaped into post-war “anti-Communist” ideologies.
Washington has for decades nurtured a sentiment that Russia is imperialist and presented this as a threat to “our way of life” as Scholz put it back in October 22. Yet, at the time, Washington sought to encroach further by being ceaselessly antagonistic and expanding its own hegemonic interests into bordering countries, that “security belt’ knowing full well what the likely reaction would be.
Washington also latched onto the worst kind of ‘oppositional’ groups to spearhead their ambitions, (as shown in Maidan), those that wanted to continue the WW2 Nazi-led anti-communist narratives.
Ukraine: CIA’s Ukrainian operation, codenamed “Aerodynamic,” of supporting UPA guerilla operations in post-war Western Ukraine.
Washington also supported the diaspora of Eastern European, ex. Ukrainian war criminal Mykola Lebed ended up being at the heart of the U.S produced CIA-funded propaganda anti-communist efforts. NATO too endorsed this path of turning a blind eye to WW2 SS and collaborators, as this tweet on the Baltic “forest brothers” who fought “for their homeland against the Soviet army”, offers an interesting glimpse into how former Nazi accomplices are seen in a positive light.
Post 90’s European countries hate Russia and Russians so much that a revamped version of fascism, thinly veiled as a kind of ‘nationalism’ is now permeating through more insidiously, deemed as acceptable as long it is directed towards Russia and Russians.
This combination of sheer hubris with the use of rabid anti-communists set the US and NATO on a dark path. It was self-fulfilling. Now we have the situation where Russia is fighting forces trained and armed by NATO since 2014.