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Death of a Myth
Americans need to wake up to the realities of a post-unipolar world before it’s too late.
As we witness the collapse of various mainstream narratives, especially those surrounding the U.S./NATO war with Russia in Ukraine, Americans should begin to reassess their understanding of U.S. national leadership. Most American citizens have no notion of the great disparity between what their government does overseas and the stories they hear from its mouthpieces. As a result, Americans unwittingly support all sorts of foreign operations with little or no understanding of what is actually going on. For years, they have been misled by a non-stop propaganda campaign that is only now beginning to crumble.
We are experiencing the death throes of the United States’ unipolar hegemony over large parts of world. Until citizens begin to realize the magnitude of their government’s policy deceptions, it will become increasingly difficult to understand the United States’ changing global position and adjust to the effects of the growing negative perception of our country held by many people around the world.
Since World War II, and particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States was the dominant and unrivaled world power. Instead of being a peacekeeper and honest “world's policeman,” the U.S. has increasingly been a destabilizing bully. Many leaders worldwide have been reluctant to speak up about the increasingly destructive nature of U.S. foreign policy for fear of being punished. But as U.S. stature and power declines, large parts of the world have been seeking arrangements to protect themselves from U.S. predation.
Most Americans do not understand why such realignments are occurring, thanks to a constant stream of propaganda about America being the “most generous,” the “exceptional nation,” a “nation that sets aside its interests for the benefit of the world,” an “important source of good” around the globe as the “protector of the rules based order,” always shouldering the heavy responsibility to protect the international system and weak nations from bad actors, ad nauseam. According to a number of sources, U.S.-caused wars have been directly responsible for the deaths of more than 10 million people since World War II. The neoconservatives will scoff at these facts and their sources, but most of the rest of the world believes this to be true.
Most Americans cannot accept these observations because they contradict the narrative given them by the omnipresent state propaganda machine. While the ever growing list of American misdeeds abroad has for years been largely unchallenged at home, it has become increasingly obvious to many across the globe. Americans should take note. For example, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has just published an overview of what they see as U.S. misbehavior. The U.S. establishment and well-meaning patriots may dismiss the Chinese observations, but they ring true to many who live outside of the neoconservative propaganda bubble.
Contrary to establishment mythology, the U.S. is famous for breaking its promises, violating treaties, and abandoning agreements. The list is long: the U.S.'s 1990 promise not to move NATO east into former Warsaw Convention countries, the abrogation of the ABM, INF, Open Skies, STARTtreaties, the JCPOA, the agreement with Libya, and others. The U.S. has also repeatedly flouted international law by invading countries that do not bow to U.S. hegemony.
There are a number of U.S. agencies that covertly fund NGO election interference operations. Most Americans have no idea that the Cold War–era National Endowment for Democracy was created to influence elections in countries around the world, and has interfered in many. (The National Endowment for Democracy was spending money in Russia until the Russians expelled them.) Then there are the famous “Color Revolutions” sponsored by various U.S. agencies. Some estimate the U.S. has interfered in as many as fifty countries.
The days of pretending to ignore this destructive behavior are drawing to a close. We are entering a period in which the populations of many countries may decide that being subject to American hegemony is not in their interests. Increasing numbers of countries have joined and formed alternative alliances outside U.S. influence. SCO, BRICS+, OPEC+, and others have experienced growing membership as countries that believe their interests are better protected by these non-U.S. affiliated alliances sign on.
The fallout of the tragic and unnecessary Ukraine war has accelerated this movement to seek other cooperative associations. As America’s European allies are learning, there can be huge political and economic costs to being associated with the U.S. The populations of Europe have watched their own economies suffer and paid dearly for energy because of the ten rounds of self-destructive sanctions imposed on Russia.
The purveyor and protector of the "rules-based order" decided that Germany should not import cheap Russian natural gas. America's presidentand a senior State Department official threatened to cut off the pipeline supplying Russian natural gas if Russia did not bow to Washington's wishes. Coincidentally, the Nord Stream gas pipelines were blown up not long after. The U.S. Secretary of State said the sabotage was an “opportunity,” and the assistant secretary of State appeared to be satisfied. The neoconservatives lauding this act of terrorism against an ally of the U.S. may believe pretending Washington was not responsible will reassure America and Europe, but the rest of the world believes otherwise.
Many will ignore or diminish the consequences of a possible U.S. role in the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines. But this addition to the list of callous acts believed abroad to be perpetrated by the U.S. further would undermine the narrative of America as the “generous nation,” “leader of the free world,” “protector of the rules-based order.” For years, these contradictions were skillfully finessed and ignored by a compliant press and complicit institutions that profited from these deceptions. But as the U.S. appears less powerful, the rest of the world is beginning to take notice and are moving to seek other protective friendships.
Less than two years ago, the “most powerful military in the history of man” was chased out of Afghanistan by a group of ragtag militants armed with small arms and mounted on donkeys, bicycles, and motor scooters. The Taliban now has $80 billion worth of U.S. military equipment our leaders left behind. The excuses may have been convincing to the Washington elites and were sold strenuously by regime-aligned media outlets. The rest of the world knows better. The old post-Vietnam collapse tropes, claiming “we would have won if only we were really allowed to fight,” ring hollow after twenty years, hundreds of thousands killed and made homeless, and several trillion dollars spent on that disaster.
Contrary to the many assertions that the Russians would collapse from the shock and awe of the “sanctions from Hell,” the ruble has not turned into rubble as Joe Biden predicted. The U.S. and its NATO clients are running out of ammunition and arms to send to Ukraine, which is being bled white at their behest. It appears that Russia will steadily grind down the Ukrainian military. All of this is reminiscent of World War I. The proto-neoconservatives sold that war as a quick engagement that would be over by Christmas 1914. Four years later, 20 million were dead and many more were wounded or displaced; subsequently most of the European Christian monarchies collapsed, Russia descended into communism's seventy-year nightmare, and the “War to End all Wars” to make the world “safe for democracy” set the stage for the even more horrific World War II.
A century later, we are sleepwalking into World War III. Americans should ignore the state-sponsored propaganda (eerily similar to that which led up to WWI), wake up, look at what their leaders have wrought, and do all they can to end support for this cruel war before we face a Great War–like conflagration or worse.
George D. O’Neill, Jr., is a member of the board of directors of the American Ideas Institute, which publishes The American Conservative, and an artist who lives in rural Florida.
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