Rarely a day goes by without some outraged denunciation of Putin’s regime by some Western intellectual and the Western press. The European Union has devoted an entire agency to the purpose, called EUvsDisinformation, whose task is to label as disinformation, of course Russian disinformation, any hint of criticism of the EU, NATO or the West in general. Curiously enough, this form of Russian propaganda does not need to be specifically addressed at Western audiences, EUvsDisinformation monitors every minute of Russian television, even minor tv channels, and two words said in a talk show by one of the guests for EUvsDisinformation already qualify as Russian propaganda, whose intent is to unjustly discredit the morally impeccable West. It is of course a healthy response and a sign of strength for an organism to defend itself from criticism, but a rejection of all criticism outright is probably a sign of something less desirable than just resilience.
One day is Russia’s malign influence on Western democracy, one day it is Russia’s treatment of political opponents, one day it is Russia’s geopolitical imperialism, one day it is Russian trolls having taken over the whole of the internet, one day it is Russia’s bad vaccine, another Russia’s homophobic culture, then the fate of Navalny and the brutal way Russian police disperses the demonstrations. And these denunciations coming from intellectuals and the media have deeply permeated the consciousness of the Western public too. People are persuaded that things may not be ideal in the West, but Russia must truly be hell on earth.
Criticism of Russia does not require particular sophistication: everyone in the West knows that Russia is a cruel dictatorship, that Russia kills people and wages war just because they cannot do anything else other than killing and waging war. It does not matter how far people live from Russia or if they have ever spoken to a single person from Russia in their lives: many are truly obsessed about Putin’s sinister threat and Russia’s evil existence. It is a state of affairs that has promoted a culture where practically any form of criticism of Western policies is automatically dismissed as a Russian operation.
It is certainly possible that Erdogan and Putin are autocrats and that neither Turkey nor Russia are democracies. But Russia and Turkey have extremely little impact on the way people in the West live their lives. The insistence and the animosity with which Western media and the public speak of Russia, Turkey or China for that matter, physically distant thousands of kilometres and spiritually even more, is therefore remarkable. Yes, China is growing more powerful. Yes, Russia took over Crimea. How did the annexation of Crimea, if we want to call it like that, put Western security at risk? Why should the area of Western (that is American) security extend up to the Russian border while Russia must be deprived of any form of security interest, even right across their borders? Putin has been in power for 20 years: in what way exactly did he harm the West? Was stopping NATO enlargement into Ukraine and Georgia a damage to the West, a crime that the West cannot forgive Putin?
And what is this recent obsession with the fate of the Uyghurs in China? What is with this strange sudden interest in Belarus? Is it a distraction manoeuvre in the face of an increasingly discontented electorate in the West? A deep discontent witnessed by a couple of prominent elections that did not go the way the utopian globalists imagined they would have to go and exacerbated even more by the covid pandemic? As if to say: “Maybe you are unhappy with the way things are in the West right now, but look at the alternative, there is nothing but tyranny and oppression outside of the West”.
Even assuming Russia, Turkey or China are not democracies, that is the power there does not reside with the people: where is it written that the only legitimate form of government would be democracy? Why is power in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt or Pakistan legitimate, while in Belarus, Russia and Turkey those in power must be seen as nothing more than usurpers? And does in the West power reside with the people? Yes, people are been called to vote every few years but don’t these newly elected politicians strangely appear to submit to the non-elected powers of the media, established institutions like various transatlantic councils, big capital and large corporations? In the face of this, does not it sound hypocritical to say that in the West power resides with the people (the true meaning of the word democracy) in era when popular movements have been disdainfully rejected as “populistic”, as if the “people” were not after all good enough to understand what’s good for them and for their country?
Simply offering an alternative to the envisioned planetary neoliberal globalist regime qualifies a political leader as a dictator. Remember that Trump too, whose stance on globalism was ambiguous, was nearly equated to fascist demagogues like Mussolini and Hitler by some. With hindsight it clearly feels like a wild exaggeration, but I don’t know of many people who apologized or requalified their assessments. Experienced players on the global arena like Putin and Erdogan threaten (but even then only to a very limited extent) the globalist order: for this reason they must be pilloried.