It’s ridiculously hypocritical for westerners to condemn Russia and China for responding aggressively to the US empire building up military threats on their borders, because the last time a credible military threat was placed near the border of the United States, the US responded so aggressively that it almost ended the world.
I point out this hypocrisy not because hypocrisy in and of itself is an especially terrible sin — there are much worse things you can be in life than a hypocrite — but to flag the fact that people who think Russia and China should tolerate US actions on their borders that the US would never tolerate on its own borders actually believe the United States should rule the world.
It’s worth spending some time learning about the Cuban Missile Crisis for a number of reasons in the 2020s. First, in a time of soaring hostilities between nuclear-armed governments it’s probably good to have a lucid understanding of how close humanity came to wiping itself out in 1962, and the fact that total nuclear war was averted by a single dissenting decision by a single Soviet officer on a nuclear-armed submarine that was being bombarded by the US navy. Second, in an environment where talk of peace negotiations and compromise are regarded as treasonous Kremlin loyalism it’s good to have an understanding of the fact that the only reason we survived that perilous standoff was because Washington made compromises and pulled its Jupiter missiles out of Turkey and Italy. Third, the Cuban Missile Crisis shows how aggressively the US will respond to a foreign rival placing a military threat near its border.
As we’ve discussed previously, the single dumbest thing the US empire asks us to believe is that its amassing of war machinery near the borders of its top two geopolitical rivals should be seen as a defensive measure, rather than the act of extreme aggression that it obviously is. The US empire was the aggressor when it expanded NATO and began turning Ukraine into a de facto NATO member, and it is the aggressor as it accelerates its encirclement of China and opens the floodgates of US-financed weapons into Taiwan.
We know the US would never in a million years tolerate such things being done anywhere near its own borders. We know this from the Cuban Missile Crisis, and we know this from the way empire managers talk about potential threats near the US border. There are US presidential candidates openly talking about invading Mexico just to take out drug cartels. Last month John Bolton penned a furious screed demanding aggressive military force against Cuba in response to reports that Havana and Beijing could possibly be in talks for a joint military training facility on the island at some point in the future. Earlier this year Senator Josh Hawley gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation ominously asking his audience to imagine a dark, horrifying future in which the Chinese military surrounds the United States, and his description of this frightening imaginary scenario matched the way the US military has actually been surrounding China in real life.
“Imagine a world where Chinese warships patrol Hawaiian waters, and Chinese submarines stalk the California coastline,” Hawley said. “A world where the People’s Liberation Army has military bases in Central and South America. A world where Chinese forces operate freely in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.”
This kind of rhetoric illustrates quite clearly that the managers of the US empire would regard military buildups by Russia and China near their borders as an incendiary and entirely unacceptable provocation — an act of war in and of itself.
And apologists for the empire would have you believe that wild discrepancy is perfectly fine and normal.
To demand that Russia and China tolerate foreign activities on their borders that the US would never even think about tolerating on its own borders is just demanding that the entire world lie down and submit to being ruled by Washington. It’s American supremacism at its worst.
Saying the US empire gets to do extremely aggressive things to other nations but those other nations aren’t allowed to do those same things to them is just saying you think the US rules the world. You’re saying it plays by different rules, because it’s in charge of the planet. You’re saying the US empire has a monopoly on military aggression in the same way the police in your society have a monopoly on violence. They’re allowed to act with extreme aggression on the borders of Russia and China for the same reasons that a police officer can legally tase you, but you can’t legally tase a police officer.
If you say Russia and China should let the US do things on their borders that it would never permit them to do on its own borders, what you are really saying is that you think the US should be functioning as the police, judge, jury and executioner of the entire world.
That is in fact the mainstream consensus on these conflicts. It normally gets obfuscated and manipulated to keep people from looking at it too closely, but that is in fact the argument being presented here. The US empire believes it is the rightful ruler of this planet, and those who are currently shaking their fists at Russia and China for refusing to accept this are fully behind it in that perspective.
Caitlin’s Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece here are some options where you can toss some money into my tip jar if you want to. All my work is free to bootleg and use in any way, shape or form; republish it, translate it, use it on merchandise; whatever you want. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.
Bitcoin donations: 1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2
Subscribe to Caitlin’s Newsletter
Articles, poems, stories and thoughts by Caitlin Johnstone and Tim Foley. Everything published here will always remain free to read.
Categories: Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy