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Dangers of Democratic Putin-Bashing

By       Message Robert Parry       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   18 comments

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From Consortium News

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a crowd on May 9, 2014, celebrating the 69th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Crimean port city of Sevastopol from the Nazis.
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a crowd on May 9, 2014, celebrating the 69th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Crimean port city of Sevastopol from the Nazis.
(Image by (Russian government photo))
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The Washington establishment's hysteria over its favorite new "group think" -- that Russian President Vladimir Putin put Donald Trump in the White House -- could set the stage for the Democratic Party rebranding itself as America's "war party" alongside the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party.

This political realignment -- with the Democrats becoming the party of foreign interventionism and the Trump-led Republicans a more inwardly looking America First party -- could be significant for the future. However, in another way, what we're seeing is not new. It is a replay of other "group thinks" in which some foreign leader is demonized beyond all reason allowing any accusation to be lodged against him with virtually no pushback from anyone interested in maintaining a U.S. mainstream career.

We saw this pattern, for instance, in the run-up to the Iraq War when Saddam Hussein was demonized to such a degree that any accusation against him was accepted without question, such as him hiding WMDs and colluding with Al Qaeda. In that context, some individuals supposedly with "first-hand knowledge" -- "Iraqi defectors" -- showed up to elaborate on and personalize the anti-Saddam propaganda message. We learned only later that many were scripted by the U.S.-government-funded Iraqi National Congress.

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Since 2011, we saw the same demonization treatment applied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who was depicted as a ruthless monster opposed by a "moderate opposition" which, in turn, was embraced by "human rights" groups, touted by Western media and applauded even by citizen "peace groups" around the United States and Europe. The Assad demonization obscured the fact that many "opposition" groups were part of an externally funded "regime change" project spearheaded by radical jihadists connected to Al Qaeda.

A Reagan Strategy

For me, this pattern goes back even further. I have witnessed these techniques since the 1980s when the Reagan administration tapped into CIA psychological warfare methods to rally the American people around a more interventionist foreign policy -- to "kick the Vietnam Syndrome," the public skepticism toward war that followed the Vietnam debacle.

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Back then, senior CIA propagandist Walter Raymond Jr. was assigned to the National Security Council staff where he tutored young neocons, the likes of Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan, drumming into them that the key was to personalize the propaganda by demonizing a particular leader, making him eminently worthy of hate.

Raymond counseled his acolytes that the goal was always to "glue" black hats on the side in Washington's crosshairs and white hats on the side that Washington favored. The grays of the real world were to be avoided and any politician or journalist who sought to deal in nuance was disparaged as a fill-in-the-blank "apologist."

So, in the 1980s, the Reagan administration targeted Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, "the dictator in designer glasses," as President Reagan dubbed him.

In 1989, before the invasion of Panama, Gen. Manuel Noriega got the treatment. In 1990, it was Saddam Hussein's turn, deemed "worse than Hitler" by President George H.W. Bush. During the Clinton administration, the demon du jour was Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic. In all these cases, there were legitimate criticisms of these leaders, but their evils were inflated to fantastical proportions to justify bloody military interventions by the U.S. government and its allies.

Regime Change in Moscow?

The main difference in recent years is that Official Washington's neocons and liberal interventionists have taken aim at Russia with the goal of "regime change" in Moscow, a strategy that risks the world's nuclear annihilation. But except for the stakes, the old script is still being followed.

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A wintery scene in Moscow, near Red Square.
A wintery scene in Moscow, near Red Square.
(Image by (Photo by Robert Parry))
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Rather than a realistic assessment of what happened in Ukraine, the American people and the West in general have been fed a steady diet of propaganda. As U.S. neocons and liberal interventionists pushed for and achieved the violent overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych, he was lavishly smeared as the embodiment of corruption over such items as a sauna in his official residence. Yanukovych wore the black hat and the street fighters of the Maidan, led by ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis, wore the white hats.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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