At Large

Genius Left vs. Stupid America

Some things never change, such as the tendency of Europe to blame the U.S. for Russian perfidy.

By 8.29.08

It has long been the mantra of the left in Western Europe that most of the ills of the world have been caused by some ramification of ineptness or simply outright power hunger of the United States. These days of the rebirth of Russian hegemonic ambition is no exception.

The current anti-American thought process goes as follows: U.S. intelligence that Iran will have the capability to launch a ballistic missile well over a thousand miles in the next several years is unsupported speculation. This American incompetence is responsible for placing a fearful Russia in the position of having to defend itself by threatening to obliterate Poland, where the American anti-missile batteries will be based. The brilliant Russians naturally think these limited American counter-missile batteries are really aimed at them.

Once again the "stupid" Americans, led by a "stupid" president (as has been the leftist characterization since the days of Truman) have provoked the peace-loving democrats of Russia into announcing they will defend themselves against the U.S. and their gullible allies. It's hard to believe this out-dated line is still being published in major European media, but it occurs daily.

The invasion of Georgia by hundreds of Russian tanks and armored vehicles supported by air and artillery assets obviously built up and organized weeks before was implied in the British newspaper, the Guardian, to be at least partially a result of American encouragement of Georgia to exert its authority over the breakaway regions of S. Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The Russians say they only began moving their units when the Georgians launched an attack in force on the South Ossetian capital after a minor hit and run mortaring of Georgian positions by a small Ossetian militia unit. The European left-wing media accept this justification for the Russian invasion and add that the Georgian president. Mikheil Saakashvili wanted to show off to his hoped-for future colleagues in NATO that Georgia had "the right stuff."

Ukraine's desire also to become a member of NATO has been loudly proclaimed by the Kremlin to be a direct threat to the security of Russia. Once again is heard the old Cold War theme that the poor Russians are being surrounded by the power hungry Americans. As a result, Putin and his crowd of revived totalitarians need to invest billions of their newly accumulated petro-cash in vast defense expenditures.

Europe's anti-U.S. left holds that if the American people get this argument correct, they will recognize that they have been duped by their current leadership -- as they were by previous leaders -- to believe Russia wants to expand its power. In actuality Moscow is simply reacting to Washington's provocative acts, the Putin/Medvedev apologists righteously proclaim.

Similarly the government in Iran defends its need for nuclear power to provide an alternative national energy grid. This claim comes despite the fact that its immense oil and gas resources and total lack of environmental angst clearly prove Iran does not need nuclear power projects that produce weapons grade uranium. Russia wants to ignore Tehran's own boast of the development of longer-range missiles which it has said it must have in order to ward off the American and Israeli ambition of destroying Iran.

In a recent column in the Guardian the fashionably anti-American left-wing journalist, George Monbiot, wrote, "To keep the pudding [defense contracts] flowing, the [U.S.] administration must exaggerate the threats from nations that have no means of nuking it -- and ignore the likely responses of those that do." Presumably this is in reference to American worries over eventual nuclear weapons in Iranian hands as opposed to existing Russian capabilities and insecurities.

The point of that whole column is that the U.S. anti-missile system is an ineffectual and overly expensive program that can and will be countered -- justifiably -- by Putin's Russia in a relatively inexpensive manner. More stupidity from Washington that edges the world toward perpetual insecurity in the brinkmanship of capitalistic profit seeking.... If that isn't straight out of the old Comintern agitprop, Joseph Stalin wasn't a communist.

The underlying problem is not in the rather obvious effort to tie an image of an insatiably money-hungry capitalist defense industry to a foreign policy aimed at keeping the world in a profitable turmoil. Many otherwise reasonable people, not only in Europe and Asia, but also in the U.S., have rushed to accept such absurdity because it satisfies their need to have an all-encompassing explanation of world affairs.

The envy of the United States will not go away nor will the Free World's dependence on the U.S. to be its ultimate protector. That statement alone is the key to anti-American perceptions. One wonders, however, what would happen if the American people ever became so weary of their country being blamed for the world's ills that they sought to withdraw from the global responsibility of defending democracy -- or would that also be considered stupid?

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About the Author
George H. Wittman writes a weekly column on international affairs for The American Spectator online. He was the founding chairman of the National Institute for Public Policy.