If one relies on Western mainstream media and those who claim to represent the Western world, it is easy to come to the conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin is the most evil political figure in the world.
Actually, it would not be a gross exaggeration to claim Putin is responsible for just about all that afflicts the human condition today. One simple sentence says it all: “Putin did it.” The list of his sins is long and repeated endlessly. The fact is the West is infuriated by Russia’s refusal to accept its place in the world assigned by the Washington consensus. And Putin gets all the blame for this (and all the credit at home among Russians).
Since the end of the Cold War, American foreign policy has lacked any meaningful ideological coherence. It says it supports democracy, but only democratic expressions that fit Washington’s self-ascribed security needs. Thus, democratic experiences in Pakistan, Lebanon, Venezuela, Palestine, Brazil, Iran, Syria, Ukraine, and Russia and others are deemed null and void. These countries “failed” to follow Washington’s playbook by not electing the “right choice.” [At the same time the Democratic National Committee violated democratic norms when selecting its presidential nominee Clinton.] Washington’s solution is the export of its democratic choices – and the use of force is actually preferable. Providing guns and bribes to targeted individuals and groups are sloppy tools of the democracy export trade, but both ensure Washington determines political outcomes on the ground and gives mainstream media propaganda cannon fodder demonstrating America’s foreign policy idealism, even charity.
In a perverse way, Washington’s democracy promotion actually works, though only to a point. From the former Yugoslavia to the Ukraine of today, Washington has more or less perfected its forced regime agenda strategy. With enough money, overt and covert operations, sanctions, military threats, media manipulation, and out-right lying, weak regimes can be changed with relative ease. One can only imagine what kind of victory lap Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland took once her forced regime change played out in Kiev two years ago. Though once the victory laps are run and the congratulatory high-fives are over, a new reality sets in. And that reality is almost always ugly.
Western-sponsored regime change in the name of democracy has a patchy record since the Second World War, particularly since the end of the Cold War. The recent wars of choice – most importantly Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria – have ended in catastrophe. Destroying a regime and installing a desired one is the easy part. Post-regime change environments are unstable, rarely democratic, and universally punctuated with economic and social misery. Often the IMF and the World Bank are called upon to pick up the broken pieces, while corporate vultures asset strip anything of worth. By that time, the State Department’s low-octane spokespersons and the echo chamber known as the west’s mainstream media have moved on to the next regime change episode. (When you stop and think about this, this is probably the only way Americans learn some geography).
This is where Vladimir Putin and Russia come on to the scene. The added caveat: Russia is not a small and weak power. As far as the Washington Consensus and its pliant media are concerned, the “Russians simply don’t get it.” In the post-Cold War environment, Washington loathes dealing with sovereign countries that have the resources and desire to resist Washington’s “exceptional” foreign policy demands. Resisting Washington is essentially akin to demanding to be designated as a dangerous enemy. When Washington declares a country or a region in the world as part of its national security interest, said country and region are automatically denied sovereignty and security. This is what has happened to Russia on the back of Western induced tragedies occurring in Syria and Ukraine.
Washington’s hegemonic appetite is truly extraordinary. When the West targets Iran, Russia is there in search of a negotiated settlement. When the civil war in Ukraine could have been ended in a matter of weeks, Russia vocally called for peace talks. Russia has pushed for a negotiated end to the Syrian proxy when Washington floods the country with weapons. Washington is tone deaf when it comes to diplomacy. In fact, Washington is livid when Russia steps-up in search of a fair and just resolution of conflicts. Washington dismisses the necessity of dealing with other powers as a mere equal. This is why Putin has become enemy number one.
Applying the logic outlined above, the West’s onslaught against anything related to Russia and Russians must be personalized to be effective. Otherwise there would have to be a real discussion (even dialogue) surrounding very serious, meaningful, and differing national interests. Since there is no indication this is going to happen anytime soon, Washington must play an alternative card: fall back on emotion and caricature. Instead of a coherent foreign policy, the West, particularly its media, prefers a narrative in which an invented cartoon figure is the essence of all-evil in the world and “against our values.” This of course is not a foreign policy, but it is a rejection and a refusal to entertain simple commonsense. It is also foreign policy failing to achieve Washington’s goals when attempting to stare down and isolate Russia.
Demonizing the Russian head of state will not in any way change Moscow’s understanding of its national interests. In terms of Russia’s domestic politics, the West’s treatment of Putin has only united Russians against the West and turned Putin into the most known and probably the most admired politician in the world. I suppose … that is Putin’s fault…
Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.