Saddam’s Sword, Putin’s Missing Shirt and the American Left
When the US decides to bomb or invade a country and the media promptly tells us why it’s the right and moral thing to do, the reactions among the American left vary from accepting the official line to its unequivocal rejection. I have a hard time considering someone of the first group, who goes along with the government explanation and pretext for military intervention, part of the left.
But, there is another group on the left, who take somewhat of a middle ground. Their position goes something like this: we agree the situation is dire, people are suffering or dying or the dictator poses a danger to his neighbors or the government is brutal and commits crimes against humanity and must be stopped, but, nevertheless, they end their position by saying “US Out” or “NATO Hands off”. Case in point: Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Syria (hopefully we won’t have to include Iran to this list in the future, but, I’m not so optimistic).
In the case of Ukraine, there’s been a relentless and nonstop propaganda against President Putin. Just as they repeatedly showed Saddam pulling out his sword to make him look scary and evil (which he probably was), now, it’s Putin’s turn and what they’ve got on him is his shirtless horseback riding. Again, the point isn’t if there’s truth in what we’re told, repeatedly and ad nauseam. Does Putin have anti-democratic tendencies? Probably? Is he anti-gay? Looks like it. But, so are many other leaders. In fact, there’s a certain president of a certain country, who maintains a “kill list”, from which he picks whom to execute, goes to war without congressional approval, punishes whistle blowers severely, and has signed a National Defense Authorization Act, which gives him the authority to order anyone detained indefinitely, without charges or legal representation. That seems pretty dictatorial to me.
So, the question is not if there is any truth to what the media suddenly decides to tell us, repeatedly, on behalf the Pentagon, but, why. Is it a coincidence that they start showing Saddam with his sword, over and over, before they invade the country? They could have shown such images in early 80’s when the US was giving him chemical weapons. And, is it necessarily a coincidence that they begin focusing on Putin and his shirtless ride, before a rowdy and violent protest breaks out in Ukraine that ends up toppling the government with the potential for Russian intervention? It could be, but, given the history of this country, it’s reasonable to be at least skeptical. It’s reasonable to assume there was an ulterior motive to such persistent negative propaganda, right before Obama starts issuing warnings to Putin.
The point is: whether a certain president or King is a tyrant, or not, or whether he commits crimes, or not, the US never acts on the basis of morality and its objective is never to help people. Its actions, instead, are always calculated, usually long in advance, to advance the empire’s agenda.
The left accomplishes nothing by joining with the TV networks or major newspapers in drilling into people’s heads what the empire has decided on, in order to meet its imperial objectives. Agreeing with them that Putin, for example, is a dictator or a “gulag” and that he has sinister motives in Ukraine, even if he is and he does, is not helpful to the cause of raising political consciousness and understanding, even if we finish our statements with: US and NATO hands off Ukraine..