I can't help it, suddenly I find Americans not merely contemptible but also funny as hell, I mean if you imagine them as literary characters. Because even in the world of fiction, you couldn't possibly invent a nation of such grotesque, abject suckers if you tried. For one thing, it wouldn't sell. No one would buy it. If the American public were characters in a novel, no editor would let them pass without massive reworking: "Your American public are simply not believable. They're too stupid and credulous and predictable...not to mention completely unlikable...no reader will identify with them! You can only suspend reader belief so much! Fiction has its limits!"
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This is the essence of the Newsweek article, and so many others like it. While annoying, what they really reflect is something much more disturbing (or funny, depending on your tastes): the sharp and savage decline of American power, and with it, America's self-confidence. What's left are festering new complexes.
Indeed, as I said, it's Russia's confidence that galls the most.
"On the wider global stage, Putin displays seeming strength and new confidence," the Newsweek article notes. And then there's the "but"--a pretty funny "but," in fact--because the authors claim that Russian confidence is not merely misplaced, but that it is leading to racial violence and could plunge the region into chaos, while at the same time increasing Russia's weakness. I swear I'm not making this kitchen-sink-of-evils up: "However much it resonates with a particular Russian political class, that [confident] rhetoric can itself breed weakness. You see this in the sharp rise of race-related hate crimes in Russia..."
There is no logic from A to B, but then again, there is no logic to A: Bush destroys American power while enriching his plutocrat donors, and so therefore B: the nation supports him and his party over and over again.
Perhaps an even sadder example of America's syphilitic decline comes from the Washington Post's Jim Hoagland. In a column published the same day as the Newsweek issue, he made this incredible, jaw-dropping claim:
"An ambitious American effort to spread democracy into Russia under President Bill Clinton in the 1990s faltered and was stalemated when Putin came to power. But seen from today, it did help create a reference point and toehold for future advances. This should offer some solace to Clinton, and perhaps for President Bush's beleaguered push for democracy in the Middle East as well."
If I go into every reason why Hoagland is talking Holocaust-denial nonsense here, my article will be even more unnecessarily long than it is. So I'll be brief: Russians themselves fought to instill democracy into their country in the late perestroika/early-Yeltsin years. The first huge blow to democracy came when Yeltsin destroyed the opposition parliament with tanks--with full support from newly-elected President Clinton. The next blow to democracy came from the creation of an oligarchy and the mass impoverishment of Russia, all due to economic policies that came straight out of the US Treasury Department. The last big blow came in 1996, when the once-free Russian media was coapted by the pro-government oligarchy. The media in turn was used to support Yeltsin's presidential run that year--which he lost, but which he stole with massive manipulation, with the help and support and cover of the Clinton Administration.
By the time of the economic collapse in 1998, democracy had become known as "shit-ocracy," a dirty word and a cruel joke. The Clinton Administration sacrificed every decent value here, starting with the concept of democracy, in order to both enrich their backers on Wall Street and to make sure that the Communists didn't return to power, whether the Russians wanted them or not.