George W. Bush .Fool me once, shame on, shame on you.. .You fool me, but you can't get fooled again.. Sept. 17, 2002.
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It's easy for any of us to lose our way in "the fog of war." I'm sure you agree. After all, most of us aren't experts in matters Ukrainian. What do we know?
One way of dealing with such mystification is to remember some elementary principles and truisms that apply to all cases of international conflict including Ukraine and far beyond.
Let me review 20 of them. See if these help:
- The United States (not Russia, China, or ISIS) is the world's "greatest purveyor of violence." Martin Luther King made that identification. By all measures (including weapons sales, "defense" budgets and involvement in ongoing wars), it remains true today. This realization might be enough to raise suspicions about "our" government's position on Ukraine.
- Might does not make right. A military force powerful enough to impose its will on weaker opponents is no indication of who's right. This, of course applies to the United States as well as to Russia.
- International laws should never be disobeyed. This principle the United States applies to its enemies (such as Russia in the Ukraine) but rarely to itself.
- Wars are illegal unless they follow UN protocols. Please note that nearly every (if not all) of the myriad "American" wars since the end of the Second Inter-capitalist war have been illegal according to this standard.
- Everyone is equal before the law. Obviously, legal double standards are morally repugnant. For instance, the United States can't deny the authority of the World Court when it's invoked against itself and then turn around and invoke its authority against an "enemy" like Putin.
- It is not logically permitted to lecture others to "Do as I say, not as I do." In other words, law breakers lose moral authority to instruct others about the virtue of law abidingness. Every child can grasp this rule.
- People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. The U.S. cannot condemn Vladimir Putin for his actions in Ukraine, when it's doing and has done worse things in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen.
- The one who delivers the first punch can't prevent a counterpunch by claiming "Two wrongs don't make a right." I've even heard State Department officials adopt this defense when U.S. crimes are compared to those of designated enemies. ["Well, are you telling me that two wrongs make a right?" (Please don't hit me back!)]
- What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If the United States can invoke its "Monroe Doctrine" to protect its Latin American "backyard," a similar right must be extended to Russia and its perceived need for a buffer zone around its borders.
- "Whataboutism" should be cultivated not denigrated. It's simply the informed art of making connections. That's what I'm trying to do with this piece.
- Without making connections, the world cannot be understood. Absent connections, we lurch from one crisis to another inside historical, economic, political, and spiritual vacuums.
- Borders, nationality, and race are creations of the elite to control the rest of us. Imperialists have used these fictions throughout the history of colonialism. All three, borders, superstitions about national allegiance and the illusion of race have been used to divide, conquer, and rule -- to know whom to bomb, to collect taxes, and create captive workforces forbidden to cross imaginary lines to better their lives. (To illustrate, imagine if there were no enforceable border line between Russia and Ukraine. How would Putin know whom to attack? Would there even be a Putin?}
- Cultivate a long memory. This is another way of expressing the truism that those who forget history are bound to repeat its errors as we're seeing with the coalescing dangers of yet another European war. In fact, Russian memories are long concerning the use of Ukraine as an entry point to invade their country during WWII. There, invading Nazis supported by Ukrainian sympathizers took as many as 27 million Russian lives (compared with just over 400,000 American lives lost during that conflict).
- Follow the money. Because NATO requires its members to increase their "defense" expenditures, the military-industrial complex benefits from each additional affiliate. Could that be a factor in the campaign to increase NATO's membership -- including in Ukraine?
- Follow the oil. Decommissioning the Nord Stream pipelines from Russia to Europe means new markets for U.S. liquified natural gas. Hmm. . ..
- The CIA, the U.S. government, and the media unquestioningly reporting their claims cannot be trusted. After all, CIA boss, Mike Pompeo admitted "We lie, we cheat, we steal all the time. In fact, we take entire courses. . .." (See below, point # 20.)
- If the U.S. favors a national leader, he's probably a puppet or subservient client. This applies to U.S. creations such as Venezuela's Juan Guaido and (on this principle) like Volodymyr Zelenskyy
- If the U.S. opposes a national leader, he's usually doing something right. The leader in question is probably somehow interfering with U.S. claims to world hegemony. Putin is certainly doing that.
- Non-white lives matter too - just as much as Europeans' or Americans'. Again, it's amazing how we're led to clutch our pearls at the sight of thousands of Europeans ("who look and live like us") as victims of war and as refugees while ignoring the far higher number of refugees and war casualties "we" produce every day among black and brown people.
- Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. A Great Man (remember him?) tried to say that but failed. I wonder why he didn't seem to understand. Do we?
Can you think of other applicable truisms and principles? If so, please share them.