Strap yourself in for a long one today, folks. We’ve got a lot of unpacking to do. You’ve been warned.
If I haven’t pointed it out before, I’ll do it now. If you want to do good satire, your premise has to be rooted in some concrete truth. This is why, for example, South Park’s political satire often fails miserably for anyone older than 25; the writers rarely seem to have any understanding of the issues being discussed and so you’re left with this preachy “both sides have a point/are stupid” message.
American conservative political cartoons are another example of failure to root satire in truth. In such a cartoon we might find “jokes” about Obama reading from The Communist Manifesto to learn about “redistributing wealth” and plotting to disarm law-abiding citizens. Conservatives find this hilarious but of course Obama has never preached anything close to Marxism and he did virtually nothing to limit 2nd amendment rights in anyway. In fact, gun rights technically increased under Obama. Of course every time you hear a joke based on nonsensical, incorrect claims, it’s always you’re fault for correcting the person. “Come on! It’s just a joke! Lighten up!” No I get that it was a joke, it’s just not funny because it’s not rooted in any reality. This isn’t hard, people. Take an actual fact and then add a funny observation, challenge it, or take it to absurd conclusions for humorous effect.
Needless to say, the Kremlin media hasn’t seemed to figure this out either. Who could forget the time RT made a parody video mocking claims nobody ever made and justifying their multi-million dollar budget by “angering” a handful of politicians and think tank wonks? There’s no way you could forget that; it had a live bear in it for Christ’s sake. Well guess what, folks…it happened again. This time the attempt at satire comes from Russia Beyond the Headlines, a once-relatively-sane publication.
In short, the satire is basically a role reversal situation where the US is Russia, China is the US or possible the US and Europe since vatniks can’t get their head around the fact that European countries are in fact sovereign, and the two sides are in a spat over the fate of Canada, which is a stand-in for Ukraine. Russia doesn’t seem to exist in this hypothetical 2041, which stands out as the most realistic aspect of the story.
At first glance you might think this is whataboutism, but that isn’t quite it. “What if” is more appropriate. The “what if” argument is a bit different because it sort of admits wrongdoing but justifies it by acting like everyone else would to the same in that situation, which typically leads to a hilariously incorrect equivocation. If you’ve never heard this kind of argument before, it goes something like this:
“Yes, fine, Russia has intervened in Ukraine. But what would the US do if there were unrest in Mexico and US citizens were threatened?”
Right out of the gate the argument falls flat on it’s face because:
-There has been major unrest in Mexico for several years, far more violent than anything Ukraine experienced during Maidan prior to the Donbas war. The Mexican government’s war on the cartels had a direct impact on American society and American citizens have been killed in cartel-related violence. At no time did the US move to invade and annex Baha California so as to secure the rights of American college students on spring break.
-Russia claimed to be protecting Russian speakers. This is odd because a huge part of Ukraine, including Kyiv, speaks Russian. In any case, the majority of the people they came to protect were not Russian citizens.
-It assumes the US would somehow be angered by the overthrow of a corrupt Mexican government.
This “satire,” of course, is far more comprehensive. It tries to elicit empathy but in the process it inserts Kremlin talking points into the narrative and ends up being unintentionally hilarious due its implications and omissions about Russia, the West, and Maidan. I’m not going to cover the whole thing, but rather just the best bits, and what better place to start than with the intro?
“Why are Moscow’s arguments in favor of what Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calls “polycentric architecture” for the world and its insistence that there will be no more “business as usual” with the West, especially with the United States, constantly either misheard or misinterpreted? Perhaps it is worth placing the U.S. – using a simulation model – into the shoes that Russia has been forced to wear lately.”
Oh boo-fucking-hoo. Poor old Russia, always being “misunderstood” and “misinterpreted.” Lavrov’s “polycentric architecture” sounds like a re-branding of the “multi-polar world” concept these people are constantly babbling about. I’ve covered this before but there are several problems with this concept. First, the world already is more or less “multi-polar.” Russian officials and theorists can’t understand this because in their fantasy world, any time nations side with the US or Europe instead of doing whatever Russia tells them, it’s because their puppets of Washington. Moreover, Russia basically only recognizes “great powers” as being truly sovereign. Lastly, the only other “pole” these folks care about is Russia, which they believe deserves automatic and eternal respect as a “great power,” complete with its own sphere of influence around its borders. The problem with this is that apart from nuclear weapons, Russia really isn’t a superpower. It could have been, but Putin and his buddies thought it would be a better idea to rob their country blind, fork all that money over to the West, and then use their vast media bullshit factory to give people the illusion of being a superpower when it all went south.
The line about the “…shoes Russia has been forced to wear” is also very telling. Nobody forced anything on Russia. Russian leaders could have realized a long time ago that in order to be powerful and successful they would have to tackle corruption, create strong institutions, and install a functioning democratic system where authorities could be held accountable in some way. Instead, the thieving midget and his buddies, awash in cash thanks to high oil prices, decided to do a little trade off- consumer goods in exchange for giving up democratic norms and freedoms. Of course this didn’t work out so Putin had to come back and play real dictator to make sure he and his friends would never be held accountable for their thievery. Not satisfied with repressing his own people, Putin insisted that the Ukrainian people also tolerate a kleptocrat in power, and when they didn’t, he invaded their country and started the largest war in Europe since the wars of Yugoslavian secession. Nobody forced Russia to wear any shoes. Putin put on combat boots. Cute little combat boots for his tiny feet.
Now let’s dig into this “simulation” in earnest:
“In the ungraceful year of 2041, a quarter of a century after the flamboyant incarnation of Senator Tuft, a convinced isolationist, was derailed and trumped on the final leg of the election trail, global politics have utterly spun out of control, turning the United States into an effectively besieged fortress.”
Okay do I even need to point out how this is obviously a backhanded endorsement of Trump? Yeah, just another example of “anti-fascist” Kremlin media cheering on a candidate beloved by neo-Nazis. “Tuft” loses the general election, Hillary is elected, and over the next 25 years global politics totally spin out of control. You know I figure a Hillary presidency will suck, but I’m not expecting global politics to “utterly spin out of control.”
Do you see what I mean when I say that the problems just compound and multiply from the very beginning? Why is the US a “besieged fortress.” How did that happen? Is this implying that Russia is a besieged fortress? Who was besieging Russia, a country whose people routinely took vacations abroad, and whose elite owned major property in Western nations, not to mention the fact that Russia invests in US debt? And don’t give me this “NATO” bullshit either. NATO had touched the borders of Russia since 2004. And do read a little bit about NATO deployments in Europe prior to late 2014-2015; the idea that this somehow threatened Russia is simply ludicrous.
Now let the real bullshit begin!
“It all started with popular unrest evolved into revolt in neighboring Canada, where ultra-nationalist paramilitary units were instrumental in bringing down a legitimate prime minister and paved the way for what the U.S. saw as a coup d’état.”
Okay where do I even begin to tackle this? First of all, why is there popular unrest in Canada? Canada is a leading country with some of the highest living standards in the world. I know it’s supposed to be 25 years later, but please give us a hint at what the hell happened to turn Canada into the equivalent of post-Soviet Ukraine, a country with horrible standards of living and plagued by endemic corruption bleeding the nation dry.
Now about those nationalist paramilitary units who were “instrumental” in bringing down a legitimate prime minster. If you actually bother to count how many fighting people Svoboda and Praviy Sektor had in the Maidan self-defense companies, you’ll see why this is problematic. It would also require a major political shift in Canada, which tends to be far more progressive than the US in the eyes of most people. Again, what the hell happened. And I should point out that they omitted something about the “legitimate prime minister.” To be an accurate comparison, we must assume that this prime minister had been robbing his country blind, abusing his power, and that his police acted with undue brutality against peaceful demonstrators (which is what led to subsequent demonstrations being less peaceful).
Lastly on this passage, it doesn’t matter what the US thinks about this move. If the US has somehow been reduced to a kleptocratic basketcase which sees itself as a besieged fortress, it still doesn’t have the right to invade Canada and annex part of it.
Well-organized and financed political activists occupied the main square in Ottawa and demanded a drastic change of foreign policy alignment with an immediate signing of the association status agreement with the China-led Asian Union.
If this article were a machine gun and delusional claims were bullets, this piece would be an MG-42. Rapid fire idiocy here. Where to even begin?
Perhaps let’s start with the “well-organized” part. They were largely students, “organized” by social media. Lots of protests have used methods like this for years now. Was Occupy in the US “well-organized and financed?”
One of the funnies things I find about people who buy into the coup narrative is that they can rarely explain how the protests actually began, or as you can see here, why people were protesting in the first place. You can read about the beginning of the protests here, straight from the man who was largely responsible for it in spite of his modesty. Note his skepticism and disdain for the country’s entire political establishment, not just with the Party of Regions or Yanukovych. This sentiment is fairly common in Ukraine.
Then there’s the nonsense about demanding a “drastic change of foreign policy alignment with an immediate signing” of what is obviously a stand-in for the European Union Association Agreement. This is another thing Putin fanboys can rarely explain properly. As in this case, it is presented as if the “well-financed” protesters just started demanding this.
In reality, European integration was Yanukovych’s own project, and he was very supportive of it. Shortly before the protests Yanukovych himself said: “An alternative for reforms in Ukraine and an alternative for European integration do not exist.” He then went on to say that Ukraine would not be changing it’s course on the path to European integration, stalling on signing the agreement, but not writing it off completely. In fact, even after protests had begun Yanukovych’s government claimed it was still in the process of negotiating the EU deal.
Now at this moment it’s a pretty good idea to check out what was happening on the Russian front in the lead up to that fateful meeting when Yanukovych suspending the signing of the EU agreement. See the common assumption, one which even some Western media outlets often disseminated, was that this was a struggle over whether Ukraine would “join Europe” or go with Russia, and Yanukovych was supposed to be “pro-Russian.” Not only was Yanukovych not necessarily “pro-Russian,” but the Kremlin wasn’t exactly pro-Yanukovych either. In the run up to signing of the EU agreement, Russia had begun to put pressure on Ukraine via trade restrictions. Russia even threatened all sorts of dire consequences, including potentially violent “separatism” and a possible redrawing of borders if Ukraine, under Yanukovych mind you, signed the deal. Nice little country you’ve got there. Be a shame if something were to…happen to it. But yeah, basically Russia had absolutely no intentions of invading or partitioning Ukraine and their reaction was solely a response to the “coup” in Kyiv. Sure.
Washington accused Beijing of interfering in the internal affairs of its northern neighbor, claiming that the 35 billion renminbi (around $5 billion) reportedly disbursed “to support democracy” in Canada had been channeled to pro-East campaigners bent on rupturing all ties and contacts with the U.S. and keen on joining the China-led economic and military alliances.
Yet another humanitarian convoy of bullshit has arrived! Here we have the idiotic myth that the US paid for the “overthrow” of Yanukovych. First of all, the $5 billion spent in Ukraine goes back to 1991, when the country became independent. A large portion of that was spent on disarmament and the disposal of nuclear weapons, which Ukraine had at the time and which is quite expensive I’d imagine. Here’s an infographic that breaks down the spending. Note that Russia received far more money and yet hasn’t suffered a “color revolution.”
Now obviously something like “democracy” pretty vague, but I urge people to actually look up where this money goes and find out what it actually funds. Here, for example, you can see a list of various NGOs funded by USAID in Ukraine. Note the curious absence of “paramilitary training camps” or “guerrilla warfare training courses.”
Basically, if you’re claiming that the US paid for a coup in Ukraine, the burden of proof is on you to explain how. Which organizations masterminded this coup? Show that US aid went to training paramilitaries and football hooligans prior to 2013, seeing as how the Russian narrative says they played an “instrumental role” in the whole thing. Don’t just say “State Department” or “Soros.” Show your work. The US has been involved in many coups for decades. None of them looked much like this at all. Why it’s almost as if…Ukrainians actually have human agency and form their own political views. As if they didn’t want to just keep living under a government that was steering their country off a cliff.
In the last part of that passage it talks about supporting people who were “keen on joining the China-led economic and military alliance.” Again we see the typical Kremlin delusion. The EU agreement, which Yanukovych totally supported, was a trade agreement. It wasn’t about joining the EU and it certainly wasn’t about joining NATO, something that had been considered totally off the table and which a solid majority of Ukrainians opposed until several months after somebody invaded and began partitioning their country.
Of course there’s another problem with this analogy. The US stand-in here is China, whose meteoric rise over 25 years is as odd as America’s simultaneous decline, particularly in light of the former’s current economic woes plus the impending demographic problems they face. The “well-financed” protesters want to join China’s bloc, but as we all know, Euromaidan was about a EU trade agreement. Is this just a mistake or is it just the vatnik delusion that the EU is just a puppet of the United States, the only other sovereign country in the world? Who knows?
I could go on and on about this intro but here’s the bottom line. We’re meant to buy into the Kremlin’s US-funded “coup” narrative. At the same time, and perhaps most importantly at all, we’re given no reason why anyone in poor U-Canada sees China as a better bet than the United States.
In the delusional minds of Putin, Lavrov, and a whole host of pro-Kremlin “political technologists” and “geopolitical analysts,” the only reason why countries side with America is because their people are weak-willed and bought off. The only way to avoid such a label is by doing whatever Moscow asks of you. This is called “standing up to the West” or some such nonsense. The fact that countries aren’t exactly hammering on Russia’s door to join their half-assed military alliance or cheap EU knockoff is only proof that the US cheated somehow.
Meanwhile, here in the real world, there is a very good reason why countries prefer to cooperate with the US. The Kremlin hacks themselves claim that after the collapse of the Soviet Union the world became unipolar. They imply that is the case today. So then who is that “pole,” the one at the top of the pyramid? Oh right- the United States. The US means investment, consumer goods, access to some of the best higher education and cutting edge technology and science. This isn’t patriotism- it’s just a plain fact.
This is where were come back to that old analogy about the nice guy and the pretty girl. Nice guy’s totally in love with her, in fact he’s in love with any attractive female who makes eye contact. But he never manages to land a girlfriend because according to him, they’ve all been “brainwashed” by the media and feminism so that they don’t “appreciate” his unique qualities. Instead they chase after “bad boys” and “brainless jocks or pretty boys.” In reality, women don’t choose Mr. Nice Guy because one, he’s not really all that nice, and two, because he just doesn’t have anything to offer. The good looking guy is not only good looking, he’s got a good job. Maybe he is actually smart and wittier than the nice guy. But Mr. Nice Guy doesn’t want to hear that because he doesn’t want to modify his behavior.
So it is with Putinist Russia. It sits around all day playing video games (siphoning money and spending what’s left on stupid shit), whining about its unjust plight (information war), and yet it can’t understand why the girls (other countries) aren’t attracted to this. They don’t have agency. In order to prove they are actually intelligent and not ditzes or “sluts,” they must spurn those better off, superior men for Mr. Nice Guy, or in this case, they must give Russia whatever it wants otherwise they’re filthy whores bending over for the United States. And after repeating this meme dozens of times in public settings, somehow opinions about Russia in Europe actually haven’t improved. Unbelievable!
So I’m going to skip over some bullshit for a bit, but I couldn’t help noticing this line:
“In Ottawa, some hotheads bent on revenge have demanded retribution, referring to the war hawks around U.S. President James Madison, who initiated an assault against Canada back in the 19th century.”
This makes little sense but I’m highlighting it only for the sake of showing you the kind of projection pro-Kremlin folks engage in all the time. Only vatniks hold onto grudges that long. It’s like that time Kiselyov claimed that Swedes were upset at Russia because they lost their empire to the Russians after the battle of Poltava in 1709. No, dear viewers! Russia isn’t the only country that makes up a long list of slights and spats with other nations going back for centuries! Every country is just as butthurt about things like that. You’re totally normal!
“For the moment, Chinese top officials have turned down the idea of fueling a Cold War between Canada and the United States by supplying state-of-the art armaments and have limited military assistance to sending instructors to train the Canadian army.”
I had to read over this several times because there’s something odd here. Check the original text yourself, but I haven’t left out the key element. Did you catch it? Yeah, Chi-merica is sending “state-of-the-art armaments” and advisers to train the Ucanadian army. Uh…Why? What happened?
Essentially the author, who is implying that this is the Russian POV on this topic, has suggested that the US started supplying Ukraine with military aid and instructors before the annexation and war in the Donbas. Nice try. Also the US hasn’t really supplied much in the way of “armaments.” Again, you’ll have to try harder than that to slip something by me.
“In this way the Chinese leaders have responded to pleas by the pro-East government in Ottawa to enhance their defense capabilities in view of what they claim is clandestine military support being rendered by the United States to Anglophone rebels in Quebec.
Ooooh! So that’s what happened! Well then why didn’t we hear about that first, and then the Chinese arms and advisers afterward? Oh wait, I got it! Maybe this is supposed to be non-linear, like one of Oliver Stone’s films!
The English-speaking insurgents in this French-dominated province revolted and took up arms after the government of Quebec reacted to the ouster of the prime minister in Ottawa and the formation of a newly nationalist parliament by voting to prohibit the use of the English language in the province, thus trampling on the inherent rights of ethnic minorities and turning English-speaking residents of Quebec into de facto second-rate citizens.”
The Rada after Yanukovych was not “nationalist” and they did not vote to prohibit the use of Russian in the Crimea or anywhere else in Ukraine. They were voting on the repeal of a law that protected Russian as an official language in certain regions, and then that repeal was itself quickly repealed.
And Quebec? If anything France should be invading Montreal and holding a referendum to make it part of their country. This writer knows less about Canadian politics than I do, and I’m terrible at Canadian politics. Take a look at English speakers versus French speakers in all of Canada some time. This is as stupid as claiming that leaders in a country whose capital is a Russian speaking city would want to ban the Russian language.
“China has confirmed its full commitment to act as a security provider for all the democratic nations in the region, including Canada, which many U.S. politicians have viewed throughout history and still view as “America’s backyard” and part of its sphere of strategic interests.”
Okay this is pretty confusing. Does this mean the US is now not a democracy, and China is? And what does it matter what this non-democratic, obviously economically fucked up America thinks is its “backyard?” What did America do to attract the goodwill of those nations in its backyard? Are they saying that real-life America was right to intervene in the political affairs of many Latin American nations, often supporting actual coups and repressive regimes, all because these nations were at one time considered to be in America’s backyard?
Boy this hypothetical America is a total asshole! It’s much worse than actual America!
“Moreover, it was announced at the recent meeting of ministers of defense in the capital of Guatemala that Beijing would deploy in Central America 250 MBT-3000 main battle tanks, PLL05 self-propelled mortar-howitzer systems and other military equipment.
Apart from the military hardware depots, China is to triple its rapid reaction forces in the region and create six coordinating headquarters in Central America, notably in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, and Cuba by the end of the year.”
Keep in mind this analogy is about the US moving heavy armor and artillery back in to Europe- all moves which occurred after Russia started a war in a neighboring country and started running all kinds of snap drills with numerous airspace violations that continue to this day. But yeah, poor Russia is a “besieged fortress.”
At this point I have to ask what exactly Putin and his fanboys expected. From 2012, really 2007, they have been moving towards an open policy of “fuck the West,” and yet they don’t seem to understand why the Western response hasn’t been terribly welcoming. Again it’s that attitude, i.e. “Hey you degenerate, soulless, limp-wristed Sodomites! We can nuke your countries into oblivion! Look at all our jets and rockets! Tanks don’t need visas! See you in Berlin, faggots! Oh by the way, if it’s not too much trouble would you keep investing money in our country, selling us your products, buying our products, and allowing our corrupt officials to launder their money in your banks and real estate markets? What? NO?! HOW DARE YOU!”
“There has been an ongoing outcry among conservative politicians in Canada and Central America on their own failure to put up a viable resistance and block the outreach of U.S.-disseminated false interpretations of global news. This untruth is produced by the U.S. official media, in particular, the TV channel America Today, broadcasting in Chinese, English and Spanish under a slogan of “Query More.””
Huh. That’s odd. Futuristic Shit America lost all its major privately-owned media corporations and replaced Voice of America with a state-owned version of Fox News. By they way, do look at the hilarious illustration if you haven’t already. This is actually spot on, especially as it has a quote by a US State Department official on the bottom. This being America Today, you know he won’t be challenged or questioned in any way. I really wish they would’ve expanded on that. I’d like to see America Today finding some obscure fringe blogger in China and interviewing him on the air as a “political analyst” or “geopolitical expert.” Hell, maybe they can find a totally anonymous guy who claims expertise as an ex-Chinese intelligence operative, yet who writes about issues as though he has virtually no background knowledge whatsoever.
“Recently, the United States rejected calls to abandon its present foreign policy and, once this precondition is met, to re-join the major world powers. The U.S. administration believes that the East is guilty of using every trick in the book, from bullying to recruiting agents of influence, to ensure its dominant position in global affairs.”
Gee, the United States comes off as sounding really delusional and paranoid here. Maybe the US leaders should focus on building up their own country’s infrastructure and economy instead of stealing billions of dollars to buy luxury homes in Shanghai.
“In fact, he was echoing the statement of the head of U.S. foreign policy that the war of sanctions that has seen finances being used as a political weapon, the creeping deployment of additional Chinese units and military equipment close to U.S. borders, as well as the overall disregard of legitimate U.S. security concerns constitute a structural crisis in international relations.”
Remember folks, the only creeping going on in Europe before Russia’s actions in 2014 was the US creeping out of the continent. Well that and there was Graham Phillips.
“The government of the United States stands firm in its belief that imposition on any nation of so-called “Eastern values” by use of force or hybrid warfare is a blatant breach of the letter and spirit of international law.”
Ah yes, but if the US wants to impose “Western values” on other countries, it should be allowed to do so as long as they are in a region that they consider to be their “backyard.” That’s basically what Russia’s been saying. And again, if we look at what actually happened in Ukraine with Maidan, we see how idiotic it is to say that the US was “imposing Western values” on Ukraine. And international law? Please. Bring up international law in connection with the annexation of the Crimea and any Putin asskisser will immediately tell you that self-determination is more important. Except when it isn’t, like in Russia where public statements advocating more autonomy or self-determination for ethnic minorities is literally a violation of the law since, ironically enough, 2014.
So at long last we reach the end. What do we have to show for it? Well I think one of the funniest things about this is how unintentionally revealing it is. Even if we accepted some of the deliberate propaganda claims about funding a revolution, right-wing nationalists, etc., you can’t help but think that Future America is really acting like a total asshole, and its leaders come off as paranoid. And again, we’re never given any reason why China is more influential or why countries seem to be abandoning America.
In the delusional mind of Moscow’s “political technologists” and “geopolitical experts,” there’s no real qualitative difference between Russia and America. Okay maybe Russia’s economy isn’t quite as good but that’s only because America cheated and there are traitorous fifth and sixth columnists are somehow wrecking the economy. The president doesn’t know anything about this, but he’s a great leader and the only leader for Russia, and we must all support him to help stand up to the West and punish those dastardly nameless bureaucrats!
The difference, if there is any, certainly cannot be attributed to high-level corruption so acute that it deprives the country of anywhere from a quarter to over a third of its annual GDP. That’s all just a Western information attack! Or maybe it’s true but it’s true of all countries! That happens in the US too! The US also treats its citizens like children. I’m sure that you can get fined in the US if you write the words “Islamic State” or “Al Qaeda” without a disclaimer stating that these are illegal organizations in US territory!
In reality, the narrative this story tries to tell via analogy is in fact false, and therefore America comes off as even more of an asshole, and insane to boot. It deserves the treatment it gets because instead of trying to improve and make friends, its leadership instead elected to rob their fellow countrymen and crack down on their rights to prevent them from doing anything about it. Future China apparently busted a grape and now nations are rushing to take advantage of the benefits to be derived from good relations with the Chinese.
Like I said at the beginning- if you want to make good satire, root it in truth. Or at least don’t root it in utter delusions.
*Incidentally there was an even more thorough dismantling of this kind of “what if” argument, written by the Twitter personality Darth Putin on his old blog. Luckily the true voice of Russia’s president has restored the blog, but as of this writing it hasn’t been posted yet. I will update this post when it is.