Projecting Crimes of US Empire onto Russia

The Plot to Scapegoat Russia: Book Review

Accused of being a “Useful Idiot or Propagandist for Russia,” labor and human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik is anything but. His book, The Plot to Scapegoat Russia, rather, holds the US to the same level of scrutiny as the Russophobes insist we examine Russia. Kovalik’s careful dissection of the US record makes Russia’s transgressions pale in comparison.

American exceptionalism – the conviction that our excrement smells like perfume and everyone else’s stinks – is deconstructed. Kovalik documents how the US “has fought against nearly every war of liberation waged by the peoples of the Third World, and has many times partnered with right-wing fascist forces.” In short, Kovalik embraces Martin Luther King’s dictum: “The US is on the wrong side of world-wide revolution.”

Brought up in an anti-communist conservative Roman Catholic milieu, where he was instructed to pray for the conversion of the Russians, Kovalik now pleads that the challenges of “global warming, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, mass poverty, and constant wars” would best be addressed by mutual cooperation with a willing Russia. Like a broken clock that displays the correct time twice a day, Trump is credited for suggesting détente with Russia.

Informing the book is the biblical allegory that it is more convenient to pull the speck from your brother’s eye than the plank from your own. Hence, Kovalik has the temerity to point out that “while Americans obsess over the numbers killed under the Stalin Terror, few care to consider the most-likely greater numbers killed in the US genocide of Native Americans.”

Kovalik is sympathetic to Putin’s observation that the collapse of the USSR was “the major geopolitical disaster of the [last] century.” Kovalik notes the Soviet Union’s many contributions, including the heavy lifting in defeating the Nazis in WWII. The Soviet Union also served as a major countervailing force moderating US militaristic adventures abroad. The US invasions of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and counting would not likely have proceeded had that force been present in more recent times.

Likewise, the presence of the Soviet alternative goaded the US domestically to address its democratic pretensions for racial equality and such. And with the collapse of the Soviet Union, social democracies throughout the world dissolved. Ironically Putin is being subjected to worse vilification today by the US establishment than were the Soviet leaders during the Cold War.

Kovalik emphasizes the underlying continuity among US rulers from Clinton to Bush to Obama to Trump, despite less significant differences of party allegiances and work styles. Overriding is allegiance to the US imperial project and an ever deepening neoliberal trajectory.

Obama, Kovalik points out, had arrested more people under the 1917 Espionage Act than all of his predecessors combined. Meanwhile, Trump is carrying Obama’s legacy forward. The Clintons’ many wrongdoings receive a full three chapters – two for Bill and one for Hillary. Under Bill Clinton, the ideological justification of “humanitarian intervention” replaced the former use of anti-communism as the pretext for US world domination.

Kovalik traces back the use of “humanitarian intervention” as a cover for Belgium’s genocidal activities in the Congo from 1885 to 1908 under King Leopold. Mark Twain, incidentally one of the founders of the Anti-Imperialist League, had this to say about the king: “this bloody monster whose mate is not findable in human history will surely shame hell itself when he arrives there.” Kovalik opines that modern journalists would be justified to say the same about Bill Clinton today.

The book’s subtitle, How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Russia, suggests a secret cabal concealed in the shadowy bowels of the State Department basement. The conspiracy that Kovalik reveals is far more shocking. It is composed of our leading public officials and state institutions hidden in plain sight and blatantly operating in the open, abetted by what is called the mainstream media with a little help from alternative sources (e.g., Democracy Now! on Libya and Syria).

The CIA is not only an unreliable source (e.g. weapons of mass destruction), Kovalik demonstrates that it is also a far greater threat to US democracy than Russia. The Russian hack story is a ruse to excuse Hillary Clinton’s electoral defeat, but even more it is a justification for an ever more aggressive US imperial project.

Kovalik’s The Plot to Scapegoat Russia is a worthy sequel to John Perkins’ 2004 Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, though with more sophistication and political insight than the earlier title. Just released on June 6, Kovalik’s book provides a most timely analysis and documentation to combat the unholy alliance of neo-conservatives and liberals fomenting heightened world tensions.

Kovalik concludes with the admonishment that liberals have grown so apologetic about the bedrock militarism of Democrats that they don’t resist it when the other party is in power. “I wring my hands over my own country, which seems more out of control and dangerous than any other in the world, and which is tapping into old Cold War fears to justify its permanent war footing.”

Meanwhile the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved the doomsday clock up to two and a half minutes before midnight, the closest it has been to Armageddon since the height of the Cold War.

Roger D. Harris is on the state central committee to the Peace and Freedom Party. Read other articles by Roger.