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Parry writes: "Official Washington operates in its own bubble of self-delusion in which the stars of U.S. politics, policy and media don't realize how the rest of the world sees their sociopathic behavior."

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. (photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. (photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Nearing Catastrophe on Iran and Russia

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

11 March 15


Official Washington operates in its own bubble of self-delusion in which the stars of U.S. politics, policy and media don’t realize how the rest of the world sees their sociopathic behavior. This craziness is now reaching a crisis point on Iran and Russia, reports Robert Parry.

he chasm between reality and the U.S. political/media elite continues to widen with Official Washington’s actions toward Iran and Russia making “the world’s sole remaining superpower” look either like a Banana Republic (on Iran) or an Orwellian Dystopia (regarding Russia).

On Iran and the international negotiations to rein in its nuclear program, the American people witnessed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu striding into the U.S. Congress – like some imperial consul – to deliver a faux State of the Union address that undermined the sitting U.S. president. Then, 47 Republican senators furthered Netanyahu’s intent to denigrate President Barack Obama by sending an open letter to Iranian leaders designed to prevent a deal.

Yes, I know many Republicans and their overwhelmingly white “base” don’t consider the African-American Obama the legitimate President despite his two election victories. But never in American history has a major political party as brazenly challenged the constitutional authority of a sitting president to conduct foreign policy.

The letter to the Iranian leaders warned that once Obama is out of office in 2017, “the next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.” In other words, the Republicans were telling Iran’s leaders that whatever they plan to sign with Obama and five other world leaders isn’t worth the paper that it’s written on.

This stunning congressional intervention into U.S. diplomacy was signed not just by a few backbenchers but by the Senate’s Republican leadership and several prospective GOP presidential candidates, including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, who had been viewed by some on the Left as well as the Right as a person who would not toe the Israeli line on Middle East issues.

This double whammy of Netanyahu’s extreme rhetoric on Iran and the Republicans extraordinary subversion of the Iranian nuclear talks left people around the world wondering whether the U.S. government had completely lost its bearings. Meanwhile, the U.S. news media continued veering off into its own Bermuda Triangle.

What is particularly striking about this current moment is how the madness that permeates the U.S. government equally pervades the mainstream U.S. media, which is now incapable of covering major international events except through the lens of State Department propaganda, a situation that has reached extreme levels in the reporting on the Ukraine crisis.

The only filter that the MSM can place on the events in Ukraine is one endlessly vilifying Russian President Vladimir Putin. Though this technique of personalizing foreign policy disputes has become standard operating procedure for the U.S. press corps – think of Daniel Ortega, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad, Viktor Yanukovych, etc. – the U.S. media’s “group think” on Russia may even surpass those earlier examples.

Plus, nothing from the Ukraine crisis can ever be blamed on the U.S. government, even though Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland helped orchestrate the violent coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected government in February 2014 and threw the nation of 54 million people into a bloody civil war.

Everything must be blamed on Putin and any alternative analysis, recognizing another side to the story, must be dismissed as “Russian propaganda.” [See, for instance,’s “NYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine.“]

‘Russian Propaganda’

On Monday, the Washington Post delivered what could become a textbook case of journalistic self-delusion – noting that the Russian people have developed an intensely negative view of the United States but only because the Russian media portrays the U.S. government in a hostile way.

The Post article by Michael Birnbaum blamed the collapse of U.S. popularity on “furious rhetoric [that] has been pumped across Russian airwaves … a passionate, conspiracy-laden fascination with the methods that Washington is supposedly using to foment unrest in Ukraine and Russia.”

Citing recent polling, the article noted that more than 80 percent of the Russian people hold negative views of the United States. But that couldn’t be because of American behavior! No, it’s impossible that anyone looking at the U.S. today could possibly find anything to criticize! It had to be Putin’s fault, spreading spurious criticism of the U.S. via Russian media. Or as the Post put it:

“Fed by the powerful antagonism on Russian federal television channels, the main source of news for more than 90 percent of Russians, ordinary people started to feel more and more disillusioned [about the U.S.]. The anger seems different from the fast-receding jolts of the past, observers say, having spread faster and wider.”

The article quoted Lev Gudkov, director of the polling firm Levada Center, explaining: “This anti-Western propaganda radically changed the atmosphere in the society. … It has become militarist.”

Another voice cited by the Post was Maria Lipman, described as “an independent Moscow-based political analyst,” saying: “What the government knew was that it was very easy to cultivate anti-Western sentiments, and it was easy to consolidate Russian society around this propaganda.”

In other words, it wasn’t what the U.S. government has done around the world that has provoked this antipathy – from the endless boasting about America’s “indispensable” and “exceptional” qualities to its destructive behavior, including spreading bloody havoc via “regime change” schemes in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.

And, it’s not that the U.S. government looks clownish when the majority party in Congress expresses doubts about global warming and other scientific judgments. Nor is it the continued examples of racism and the police shootings of unarmed blacks. Nor the global spying by the National Security Agency. Nor the national self-degradation when members of Congress behave like trained seals jumping up and down to applaud Israel’s Netanyahu.

No, the only reason that the Russian people look askance at the United States is that they are being deceived by the lying “propaganda” dictated by the evil Vladimir Putin. By contrast, the American people always get the straight story from their mainstream U.S. news media, the gold standard for the world!

Official Washington and the mainstream U.S. media have taken on the characteristics of a male stalker who can’t understand why his female target finds him repulsive. It must be because someone is poisoning her mind with negative comments about his sterling personality. We now live in a system of delusions built upon delusions. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-83 # Knuk 2015-03-11 09:50
Mr Parry seems determined to be part of the problem, if this one-sided rant is any example. Which stream of the "U. S. Media " does he imagine himself to belong to, as he dismisses any on-site sources that might possibly contribute to a more balanced view of what Russia is up to than his own?. Just the kind of self-important hyped-up "new journalism" the world urgently needs less of, one would think. But as long as Obama somehow gets the blame, we applaud...
+73 # tedrey 2015-03-11 10:27
No journalist has brought to our attention more on-site sources on this crisis than Robert Parry, most of which have been ignored by the U.S. press. Parry is also aware of, and has reported and analysed, the Washington, Nato, and Kiev sources -- the only ones to which the U.S. media ever pay attention, completely closing their eyes to what U.S. government is up to. Right or wrong, Parry is more balanced than the lockstep press of either the U.S. or official Russia.
+21 # vicnada 2015-03-11 19:05
How is it that these right-wing Knukleheads are always the first to comment on these exceptionally well thought through articles? How much are they paid to sit refreshing their screens minute by minute to be the first to jump on with this kind of jingoism?
+5 # dsepeczi 2015-03-12 09:53
Quoting vicnada:
How is it that these right-wing Knukleheads are always the first to comment on these exceptionally well thought through articles? How much are they paid to sit refreshing their screens minute by minute to be the first to jump on with this kind of jingoism?

It could be that while we're actually reading the article, they just read the headline and then bash it.
+14 # RLF 2015-03-11 09:55
Journalists operate and are deluded in the same bubble.
+63 # Interested Observer 2015-03-11 10:14
"Yes, I know many Republicans and their overwhelmingly white “base” don’t consider the African-America n Obama the legitimate President despite his two election victories." A remarkable position for a party whose last president did not actually win his first term.
+16 # Lowflyin Lolana 2015-03-11 18:06
Or his second, for that matter.
+51 # Citizen Mike 2015-03-11 10:35
We are witnessing the collapse of US "superpower" status as US credibility in the world is being downgraded. The world will benefit by this reduction in US ability to meddle in the affairs of other nations.

All these flat-earth spokespersons denying climate change and evolution, revising history textbooks with obvious lies and promoting absurd master-race "exceptionalism ," are turning the US into the butt of the world's jokes. Everyone can see that we have descended into political foolishness and our "free press" has turned hollow.
+24 # maheanuu 2015-03-11 10:50
Quoting Citizen Mike:

All these flat-earth spokespersons denying climate change and evolution, revising history textbooks with obvious lies and promoting absurd master-race "exceptionalism," are turning the US into the butt of the world's jokes.

Citizen Mike, It has gotten well past the point where I deny my American Citizenship and only claim my Naturalized one. To tell the truth, I am ashamed of the country of my birth and of the flat earthers and the religious fundies and the rest of the ignorant slobs who seem to float to the top of your cesspool for all the world to see. No Thanks, I will stand with my adopted country and remain loyal to honesty and work for the continuation of human life on earth and not it's extinction.
+17 # lorenbliss 2015-03-11 14:05
Alas it is not mere "foolishness" into which Moron Nation has descended; it is instead a malignant madness that threatens all life on this planet, both by continued poisoning of the environment and now, in Ukraine, by unprovoked aggression that could bring about the thermonuclear apocalypse all reasonable humans have feared since the advent of the Bomb in 1945.

While the superficial reason for this era of unprecedented despair is the infinite greed at the core of the Moron Nation mindset and the lust for global conquest that is this greed's most obvious expression, its underlying cause is Abrahamic religion, specifically Christianity, which believes "redemption" and "extinction" are synonyms and is therefore literally a death cult. Thus, with the nation ruled by idiots, the biblical end-of-the-worl d prophecies move ever closer to self-fulfillmen t.
+27 # vicortiz 2015-03-11 11:12
Interesting that the US media is blaming the Russian media and leadership for demonizing the US. Is that irony lost on people? The observation that the rhetoric is becoming increasingly militant on both sides is alarming - or should be. Extreme nationalism, demonizing of others, and militarism (all of which are rampant in the US and increasingly around the world) lead to disaster. The interests of "Freedom and Justice for all" must be part of our global consciousness. The concept of "exceptionalism "is just another term for a self-perceived delusional sense of superiority. We know from psychology that narcissistic self delusion leads to very painful and public failures that force us back to a more balanced sense of humility. We need leadership that faces the shadow side of our inflated "exceptionalism " while holding fast to our values. Self rule, just like self knowledge, is not possible without rigorous and brutally honest self awareness.
-31 # BKnowswhitt2 2015-03-11 11:42
There is another way to see through a looking glass. We are not responsible for what the rest of the corrupt World at large MUCH more corrupt that here at home. So 47 senators dissent .. our system is complicated to have a democracy the other two don't give a rats ass about freedom or people.. The media you and I don't get the real policy behind the scenes either .. one thing i'm certain of and anyone who disagrees is free here in America to do so .. but i say both Obama and the 47 are correct .. on Iran .. if keeping them from getting Nukes is your aim ..
-11 # BKnowswhitt2 2015-03-11 11:51
Oh yeah however if you are pointing out is our political system broken .. yes it is by money .. i've offered the solutions .. but both parties are in on the dirty game so at times we are a 'Dumb-O-cracy' and the American People deserve better of course on that i will never disagree .. good luck on that .. Iran will get a weapon Russian will continue to be corrupt .. and it will be some outside events or economics that will change all of that . it won't be us ...
+27 # Mannstein 2015-03-11 13:20
Did you notice that Sheldon Adelson the Vegas Billionaire was present in the Joint Session of Congress watching who wasn't clapping hard enough while Netanyahoo was ranting and raving about the new Hitler.

During Stalin's time one had to be careful not to be the first to stop clapping when the Boss made one of his speeches. While in Roman times the Senators ended up offering their wives to the emperor for his pleasure for fear of losing their heads. Only difference today is that Netenyahoo isn't the emperor but the leader of a shitty little country in the Middle East. My how far the mighty have fallen.
+7 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-03-11 21:13
What is facing catastrophe is the United States. Our people are so badly informed and apathetic that we are slipping down into fascism and the people can't see it. Too busy eating trash and drinking fluoride in the water. Eat lots of sugar and wear sexually provocative clothing and all is well. Oh, and have lots of money---but watch out!! The dollar is about to crash and you will not have anything.
+3 # bmiluski 2015-03-12 08:14
NO...we are not slipping down into fascism and people CAN see. However, we of the sane do not control the media. THEY do so you don't hear of the sane ones. But we are there and in great numbers (as the Climate March proved.).
+2 # bingers 2015-03-14 17:25
Well, "we" may not be slipping into fascism, but the Republican party is already a de facto fascist party.
+8 # motamanx 2015-03-12 09:49
Tom Cotton's letter was based on essential ignorance of the history of the region. He's playing with international policy like it's a Razorback football game. Sadly, so is the rest of Congress. Bibi Netanyahu is probably the worst influence on earth, and should only be allowed access to Congress if Noam Chomsky can speak to the Knesset. Hopefully, Bibi will be voted out of office and we can start over. We have been messing with the Mideast in mendacious ways since 1915. No wonder they want us out. Who wouldn't?
It seems to me that Iran would be a more stalwart partner than Israel could ever be.

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