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Feature Story September 22, 2006
America’s Pathetic Putin-Envy
The Fear of Falling By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 3 of 7

Why the gloating and hatred? What bothers all of these journalists and opinion-makers more than anything is the fact that Russia is "confident," even "overconfident"--a word that they come back to over and over. "Confidence": it's a state of mind that America hasn't been feeling for, oh, about 3 years now. And that...hurts.

You have to understand that America values self-confidence more than life itself, more than health or happiness or family or food. Confidence=Winner= America. The only other people allowed to feel confident are those who are grateful to us. Their confidence is permissible only as a sub-set of our confidence--they can be confident only after adopting our way of life, like the Czechs, for example.

The nerve of Russia to both reject the US, to get back on its feet without our help (indeed in spite of what we've done here), and then, to top it all off, to publicly display confidence!

Suddenly Uncle Sam is turned into Yosemite Sam, steaming red and stomping around, shaking his fist at Bugs Russia: "Why you no good varmint! I'll show you confidence! I'm a gonna blast your self-confidence intah smithereens! Yup, I'll fill our newspapers with articles callin' yuh 'weak'! That's right! 'Weak'! Yuh hear that? Yer 'really weak,' even, Russia! Now how's that self-confidence of yers doin', yuh long-eared galoot! Mwah-hah-hah!"

* * *

The Newsweek article proving that Russia is "really weak" is not just one of the sloppiest examples of propaganda you'll ever read, it's downright nasty in a way that Americans are usually pretty good at concealing beneath a veneer of sentimental concern. If Russia is really as pathetically weak as the authors claim, then shouldn't the West feel compassion for its 142 million citizens? Shouldn't we want to help?

Fuck no, bitch! Celebrate! The point that the authors want to make is that Russia is weak, and so therefore...are you ready?...if we want to, we can treat Russia like shit, and not worry about it much. Except that they're so weak that they're also a danger. Which is to say, it's okay to hate Russia and to despise it for being weak, because that's all the bastards deserve. But also have a kind of contemptuous caution towards know, like how we used to in the good old days.

The problem is, to convince readers today in the face of so much contrary evidence, the authors have to flat-out lie, both by omission and by, well, lying. Interestingly, to prove Russia is weak, they start by noting that a new Russian missile designed to evade Bush's Star Wars system failed in a test launch a few weeks ago. That's odd, because the entire ABM program has been marked by nothing but a series of highly-rigged tests which repeatedly fail. Over and over.

You'd think that the authors wouldn't want to make this their first piece of evidence, but they do, and very consciously so: "The United States experiences such mishaps, too, of course. But in Russia they are signs of something deeper." Now you start to see the purpose of this article: it's about making America feel better about its own gaping problems, via a false comparison, something it desperately needs. America's highly-touted, highly-corrupt, highly-insane ABM system -- which caused the first big rift in US-Russian relations post-9/11 -- has failed and failed and failed; so what you do is you find a Russian system that failed a test, and then use that to make America feel better about itself.

And we need it. The Bush years are such a throbbing bummer that they're making the Carter years look like the '84 LA Olympics. The anti-depressant to counteract Bush-Era Reality? Point out that Russia is having the same problems we have--only worse. Their problems "are signs of something deeper," implying that America's inability to rig two successful Star Wars tests in a row is not a sign of anything deep at all, such as massive corruption, militarism, stupidity and evil. No, it's just that our tests are failed tests, while Russia's failed tests actually mean its military is in total chaos.

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