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11 May, 2024 21:12

Russia, China and MAGA Republicans: Why Western pundits fear them

Atlanticists want to lump everyone they hate under the ‘authoritarian’ label, while failing to notice real authoritarians under their noses
Russia, China and MAGA Republicans: Why Western pundits fear them

Writing in The Atlantic ahead of the publication of her new book, “Autocracy, Inc.: The Dictators Who Want to Run the World,” Anne Applebaum argues that Russia, China, and “MAGA Republicans” are making “common cause” in an affront to freedom and “liberalism” (clearly used here in the European sense of freedom rather than in the American sense of leftism). 

Applebaum cites talk by Russian officials of alleged Western biolabs in Ukraine, subsequently picked up by American social media and the Chinese and Russian state press as evidence of a “joint propaganda effort” between all the above players – as though they deliberately coordinated – that “helped undermine the US-led effort to create solidarity with Ukraine and enforce sanctions against Russia.” According to a YouGov poll, a quarter of Americans believed the theory, she added. Maybe that’s because it seemed like a totally plausible theory given all the lies that the Western establishment has been firehosing onto the average person over the past couple of years about everything from the origin of Covid to the efficacy of authoritarian lockdowns, anti-Covid jabs and mandates? 

“They also heard false descriptions of Ukrainians as Nazis, along with claims that Ukraine is a puppet state run by the CIA, and that NATO started the war.” Canada’s Ottawa Citizen, outed NATO countries’ training of Ukrainian neo-Nazis to fight Russia long before the conflict went red-hot in 2022. NBC News wrote in March 2022 that “Ukraine has a Nazi problem.” Guess they work for Russia and China too now? But alright, if she doesn’t like the sound of “CIA puppet state” then she could always go with “State Department outpost.” The notion that NATO started the war by arming and training neo-Nazis on Russia’s border who shelled Russophones in the region for years is the argument that’s generally cited when accusing NATO being responsible for the current mess in the same way that a kid who constantly threatens to punch you in the face could arguably be blamed for setting off a fistfight. That’s not disinformation or fake news – it’s a point of view. Why does Applebaum have such a problem with others who don’t share her perspectives? Sounds kind of… authoritarian.

She also doesn’t appreciate the badmouthing by Russia of various color revolutions as the work of outsiders when they’re really just organic revolts by the people, she argues. Because Western governments totally don’t practice subversion or regime change. She cites Ukraine’s Orange Revolution as a specific example – which is unlucky, because as a political consultant working in Toronto at the time, I was personally approached by a colleague to partner on that particular “campaign” in Ukraine – and neither of us is Ukrainian. She also cites Syria, despite a former French foreign intelligence chief, Alain Juillet, suggesting that it was shortly after a pipeline project benefiting Washington’s foes was chosen by Syrian President Bashar Assad that “the troubles began” for Assad in Syria.

Applebaum says that Russians are fed fake news about the decline of the West – places like America, France, Britain, Sweden, and Poland – and told that they’re “filled with degeneracy, hypocrisy, and Russophobia.” Where would they possibly get that idea? Maybe from the Western establishment’s own Russophobia, hypocrisy, and platforming of degeneracy? 

She criticized China for “conversation management” online. How about Western governments’ use of social media like X (formerly Twitter) to control narratives – a fact disclosed by X owner Elon Musk after he bought the company and delved into its inner workings? “The Chinese regime also combined online tracking methods with other tools of repression, including security cameras, police inspections, and arrests.” Was she even in the Western world at all during the Covid fiasco? She could just as easily have been describing the QR codes on which basic freedoms and daily life were contingent in Europe. Or Canada, where Freedom Convoy pro-liberty, anti-mandate truckers and their supporters saw their bank accounts blocked by executive order in what Canadian federal court has qualified as an actual act of authoritarianism. Is that in her book?

Just because one might have the same opinion as another person or group doesn’t mean that they’re one and the same. For example, Applebaum’s husband, Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, also a former Defense Minister and member of European Parliament, tweeted in the wake of the mysterious explosion of Europe’s Nord Stream economic lifeline of cheap Russian gas: “Thank you, USA,” accompanied by a photo of the disaster. So, clearly he agrees with whoever blew it up. “The destruction of Nord Stream, as far as I’m concerned, was a very good thing,” Sikorski told the New Statesman in September 2023. By Applebaum’s own logic, he may as well have done it himself or at least shared equally in the culpability.

Just because Russia, China, and some folks on the right all happen to oppose the authoritarian clown show of raging ineptitude that the Western establishment has become, doesn’t invalidate their respective arguments. When American free-market, limited-government proponents support the fact that the Chinese government that has lifted an estimated 800 million of its citizens out of poverty, according to the World Bank, and that a Russian president described by the BBC as far back as 2018 as having “overseen an economic boom” during which “living standards for most Russians improved,” it’s because those countries have shown progress in aligning with values synonymous with classic American conservatism. And they just happen to be doing so at the exact same time that Western officials are regressing on every front when it comes to those same values. Not that Applebaum would notice, even though it’s happening right under her nose. Which is why there’s a huge vacuum left these days for anyone interested in doing the job of holding the Western establishment to account.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.