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Truth, Putin, and US-imposed world order

September 28, 2018

The following text refers to this article: https://russia-insider.com/en/paul_craig_roberts, which assumes: 

“If Russia Doesn’t Quickly Put Its Foot Down It Will Eventually Face the Choice of Total Surrender to the US or Nuclear War

Putin’s policy of mild or zero response…is inviting ever more intense provocations

John Chuckman 

I just couldn’t agree less with Paul Craig Roberts on these matters.

Even his opening words about truths that are emotion-based versus evidence-based is confused and confusing.

Yes, people do say things such as “Trust your feelings,” but the expression has absolutely nothing to do with truth as science understands it or, indeed, with truth in the sense most people understand it.

It’s just a form of psychological reassurance for troubled people, not an alternate technique for discovering truth. Some people with psychological problems are confused about their feelings and are paralyzed to act in the world, but I am not sure such words help them in any event, like so much of the babble we get from self-help efforts.

It is not an alternate route to understanding reality that has been adopted by growing legions of people.

The fact is that scientific truth has an increasing place in our society. This is so because of the tremendous embrace of technology and the rapid pace of change in technology. Most people can see where scientific truth gets us. Every corporation and government agency on earth just keeps expanding their efforts in science – such has our faith in it been established.

(Of course, I even misspeak when I combine “truth” with “science.” Science has actually taught us that there are no truths, just phenomena which may be observed and measured by experiment and may be summed up to guide future expectations through hypotheses and theories, all of which remain open to contradiction through new experiments forever, a basic principle of science. But it is hard to give up old figures of speech, just as we still often speak incorrectly of “laws” in science.)

Yes, we could find some strange people for whom it is an alternate path to understanding, but we have always had many kinds of strange people, and we don’t use any of them as examples for making universal generalizations.

So, we have a weak introduction to a weak piece.

Our troubles with “truth” start with an intensive effort by the American government and establishment, including all their invariably faithful press, to inject all kinds of misdirection and nonsense into things. It is a deliberate effort to generate confusion and doubt and to cover up what is really being done in the world, much of which just could not stand up to honest scrutiny. Because the establishment’s drives for dominance and empire are now greatly intensified, so are these efforts. We live now surrounded with smokescreens.

The theme of the Roberts’ piece might be summed by the quote, “His [Putin’s] policy of ignoring provocations made perfect sense for a while…”

Putin has never ignored provocations. I am certain of that. I am sure he can recite them from memory, and I know he has a very good memory. Another statesman has said that you had better know your stuff when you have a meeting with Putin because he is always deeply prepared on the topic.

Putin has the capacity, an important quality, to not allow provocations to make up his mind for him and hurl him and his country into something far worse than a particular provocation.

Does Roberts actually think the leader of a great nation should be led to starting a war over a provocation?

That is an extremely foolish point of view. On a level with hormonal teen-ager angry over what he regards as a slight.

I, for one, am glad Putin has this quality, and it works well in combination with his other qualities.

He is observant, very thoughtful, and practical. He is also driven by real purpose, not ideology, and his overarching purpose is to see that Russia achieves her place in the sun. He knows the country needs years of peace and growth to achieve this, but he also knows that it is important to work towards establishing an international environment of peace and compromise and acceptance.

He will take whatever legitimate opportunities come his way, but he will not be tempted into making bad bets.

And we should all be happy, because we live in a time when provocation and bad bets are being offered almost continuously by the dangerous spoiled children running the United States. The President of the United States resembled a paranoid lunatic on a day-pass from his institution yesterday at the UN Security Council meeting he chaired. It was a truly ridiculous performance, lowering his country’s esteem in almost everyone’s eyes.

The principle he enunciated — essentially declaring American exceptionalism as the foundation for the future — is totally negative and unpromising, and everyone, except impetuous, angry ideologues like Nikki Haley or John Bolton, recognizes that.

Every intelligent person understands that that is a principle which can only impoverish the world society, and that it is a principal fraught with genuine threats and danger.

The world’s leaders are only now beginning to “digest” the new US-American reality, and I have little doubt that it will lead to new and unexpected turns and developments.

You know, if you’ve studied history extensively, we sometimes see the most unexpected turns suddenly happen, turns which a short time earlier could not have been forecast, watersheds in history, and I think we may well be on the precipice of that kind of event or set of events.

America’s folly and the complete failure of its political leadership – and that includes the whole corrupt Washington establishment, not just Trump – to provide any worthy vision or to offer creative leadership in anything has been now noted universally. Trump is the awkward, noisy, and obnoxious salesman for these views, but he is not the author of even most of what is going on.

America’s effort to re-make the globe to its own liking – for that is what really is going on – are, in the end, doomed to fail, but they can cause a terrible amount of damage in the meantime, and how wisely the world reacts to this new hyper-aggressive American drive will help determine the extent of that damage.

We enter now what can truly be termed a new world order, a dangerous reality and not the fantasy America’s Right has talked about for years as something being imposed on them by “globalists” and “liberals.” No, this new world order has a great deal to do with official America’s embrace of principles like “might makes right” and “my country, right or wrong.”

Few anywhere outside the United States will want to worship at the Temple to US-American Exceptionalism. It would be like expecting everyone to suddenly kneel to a new religious faith, and an extremely false one at that. But they are going to face many provocations over the near-term as America pursues a course that is not all that terribly different than the one pursued by 1930s’ fascist states of Europe.

It is going to be a dangerous world for a while, and wishing won’t make it go away. But acting precipitously, as I believe Roberts advocates, won’t get you safely through it.

An erratic man in power in a place with Russia’s capacity for war and destruction would be a terrible thing. Thank God, it is otherwise. And it seems so with Xi in China, too, so we are doubly fortunate.

Places like Europe have an immense and difficult task ahead of them. It isn’t easy to shake off ideas and attitudes which have guided you for three-quarters of a century. Ideas like America is fundamentally decent and trustworthy and embraces the same enlightened principles that we do. It has our best interests at heart despite the odd tiff or difference of opinion.

They are, in effect, stuck with a very outdated and inappropriate business model. Well, just look at how hard it is for many large businesses to adjust to new models in light of greatly changed circumstances. There is the huge struggle of the traditional, fat, and well-established press itself in the face of revolutionary changes arising from the Internet.

Putin’s steadiness and calmness under fire and lack of rash behavior greatly assist the Europeans in reassessing their situation, and the opposite behavior by him would have just the opposite effect. He builds bridges, talks of partners, and only discusses force where he has little choice.

Just so, China’s Xi with his great creative projects like the new Silk Road and all the efforts to establish peaceful, cooperative relationships around the world.

While China and Russia proceed like this, everyone can see how the United States is countering with now constant threats and ultimatums and sanctions and bombing. I do not think the contrast could be more glaring despite America’s huge efforts at propaganda to say just the opposite. Propaganda only goes so far when all tangible evidence contradicts it.

We have bridge-builders and willing partners in Russia and China, and we have the United States having turned to a thug’s philosophy in international relations, violating every enlightened principle written into its own founding documents. What Roberts is really preaching here – and it is preaching, not informing – is that old stuff about “Stand your ground” and “Just show ‘em what you’ve got” and “Don’t take no guff.” All very appealing to angry teen-agers and to people attracted to violence, but offering no wisdom, no “truth,” if you will, to guide us through a dark and serious situation.

Garbage. Just like his definition of truth. But this is dangerous garbage from Roberts. Well, he is, after all, an American.

Note by the editor:

This blog only seldom republishes articles by other writers, but the preceding commentary is important and well formulated, it deserves the widest possible audience.

One amendment though is required: Vladimir Putin’s efforts to avoid military escalation and war is admirable, but his ignorance regarding ecological issues, his embrace of nationalist and reactionary tendencies in Russian society, and his collusion with oligarchs are not.

The late Senator John McCain’s hateful smear: “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country” was despicable but not completely unsubstantiated: Novatek’s LNG (liquid natural gas) transports from the Yamal fields and the floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov are risky ecological bets which could go terribly wrong.

To exploit the homelands riches for short-term economic gains seems unwise and unsustainable.

While ecological catastrophes are looming, Russia dutifully provides the global consumer society with more energy and minerals, thereby increasing global warming, habitat loss, mass extinction, chemical and radioactive contamination.

Chinas Belt and Road infrastructure projects are ecologically damaging as well.

But all this has to be addressed in another blog post.

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