“Why Don’t You Ever Criticize RUSSIA’S Warmongering??”

Caitlin Johnstone
6 min readJan 28, 2023

Listen to a reading of this article:

“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?” is a question I am often asked with great indignation. People cannot comprehend why I would spend all my time criticizing the warmongering of the power structure I live under without spending any time criticizing the government they’re used to hearing criticisms of.

It’s a question born of delusion and propaganda brainwashing, and it has several good answers. Here are some of my favorites.

“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”

First of all, I actually do sometimes criticize Russia’s warmongering, to the limited extent that I believe it’s necessary in a civilization that’s being deliberately saturated in maximum-amplification criticisms of Russia’s warmongering. That criticism generally goes something like this: Putin is responsible for Putin’s decisions, and the US empire is responsible for the US empire’s decisions. Putin is responsible for deciding to invade Ukraine, and the US empire is responsible for provoking that invasion.

It’s not actually complicated. If I provoke someone into doing a bad thing, then we each have a degree of moral responsibility for the bad thing that was done. So much modern empire apologia revolves around pretending that provocation is simply not a thing; that this very simple and fundamental concept we all learned about as children was just invented last year by the Russian government. It’s bizarre and undignified and people should feel embarrassed for doing it. You know what provocation is. Stop acting like an idiot.

“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”

Why don’t I instead spend all my time criticizing the most powerful and destructive government on earth, whose crimes are always either ignored or supported by the political and media institutions of the English-speaking world?

Focusing one’s criticisms on the world’s most powerful and destructive government is actually the only normal and sane thing to do. It’s not strange and suspicious that I do it, it’s strange and suspicious that more people don’t.

The United States is the most tyrannical government on earth. It is currently circling the planet with hundreds of military bases and waging wars which have killed millions and displaced tens of millions just since the turn of this century. Its sanctions and blockades continuously target civilians with deadly force in nations like Venezuela, Yemen and Syria. It works to destroy any nation which disobeys its dictates by toppling their governments via CIA coups, proxy armies, partial and full-scale invasions, and the most egregious number of election interferences in the entire world.

None of these things are true of Russia. Focusing on the world’s worst offender is normal, especially in a western media environment where that offender receives almost no meaningful criticism from major institutions. None of this means I think Russia’s government is wonderful and perfect, only that the government most sorely in need of criticism in our society is not Russia’s.

“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”

Why don’t you show me a major western institution that gives an appropriate level of criticism to the warmongering empire I spend my time criticizing, instead of spending 100 percent of its time criticizing foreign governments?

What? You can’t? Because the entire western political/media class reliably facilitates the information interests of that empire?

Well okay then. That’s the imbalance I’m trying to fix. You don’t help restore balance in a wildly imbalanced information environment by spending half your time criticizing the governments that are always criticized in that environment and half your time criticizing the far worse offender who never gets criticized, you help restore balance by focusing your criticisms on the far worse offender who doesn’t receive anywhere near an appropriate level of criticism. Time you spend on one is time you’re not able to spend on the other.

“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”

This is going to blow your mind, but I don’t actually have a Russian audience. I have an English-speaking audience which lives predominantly under the thumb of the western empire. That’s where my voice gets heard, and that’s where my voice can make a difference.

“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”

The only reason it even occurs to you to ask that question is because you are surrounded all day by voices who spend all their time criticizing Russia’s warmongering and no time criticizing US warmongering. It’s what you’re accustomed to and what you’ve been conditioned to expect. Someone focusing their criticisms on the world’s most powerful and destructive government only looks weird to you because you’ve been conditioned by propaganda to see criticism of Russia as normal and criticism of the US empire as a freakish aberration, and because the imperial narrative managers have created a neo-McCarthyite atmosphere which frames all critics of US foreign policy as treasonous Kremlin loyalists.

Only in the most propaganda-addled of minds does focusing one’s criticisms on the world’s most powerful and destructive government look strange and suspicious. Only in the most brainwashed of brains does does focusing one’s criticisms on the most powerful empire to ever exist look like a sign of immorality, dysfunction, treason, or support for the Kremlin.

“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”

Why don’t you go watch TV? If you’ve got some desperate, aching need to hear one more westerner offer one more criticism of Russia’s warmongering, simply switch on the nearest television to any channel and wait a few minutes.

“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”

Nobody has ever once been able to provide me with a logically coherent answer for why I should spend any time whatsoever criticizing a government all western institutions criticize 24/7/365 while those institutions totally ignore US imperial criminality. I often get quasi-leftists much closer to the mainstream worldview than myself arguing that I should criticize both Russia and the US empire, but not a single one of them has ever been able to provide me with a lucid argument for that position which holds up to scrutiny. It’s always just some unexamined assumption they hold as a belief because they haven’t thought terribly hard about it.

Nobody can ever intelligibly explain to me what actual, concrete good is done for the world by one more westerner lending their voice to a message that is already being amplified as much as any message could possibly be amplified in the English-speaking world. They always wind up resorting to saying things like “Well it makes you look bad if you don’t criticize both” — like they transform into my pro bono PR agents who suddenly pretend to care very deeply about protecting my public image. Really they just want me to shut up and stop criticizing the empire.

“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”

Because I don’t want to be a goddamn Pentagon propagandist. In a media environment that is being flooded with propaganda messaging designed to manufacture consent for more proxy warfare, militarism and nuclear brinkmanship, we all have to be very careful about what we put our energy behind. Throwing your weight behind “Russia bad!” messaging in such an environment is an irresponsible use of your voice, especially when you could be using your voice to call for de-escalation, diplomacy and detente and help people understand that they are being deceived.

Before they drop bombs, they drop narratives. Before they launch missiles, they launch propaganda campaigns. If you choose to lend your energy to the narrative control operations designed to pave the way to death and destruction, then you’re just as responsible for that death and destruction when it occurs as the person who hits the launch button.

You are responsible for what you put out into the world, and you are responsible for its consequences. Stop functioning as an unpaid empire propagandist just because it’s sometimes awkward not to.

______________________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal, or buying an issue of my monthly zine. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Feature image via Pixabay. Formatted for size.

--

--