Does America Want Putin Dead? Russia and the Reverse Pygmalion Effect – Modern Diplomacy

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In a word, yes. In two words, hell yes.
Please note this is not going to be a commentary trying to be scandalous, libelous, or titillating. Rather, it is an attempt to rationally and objectively analyze the messages (some subtle, some rather unsubtle) being communicated to the everyday American citizen across media sources of varying relevance. Since the nature of modern mass media today makes it relatively easy to miss the forest for the trees, this article tries to analytically step back from the thousands of individual reports over the last half year to determine just what the overall forest looks like. As the title above indicates, that forest puts the situation in a rather dark and potentially ominous place. This is especially so when considering the fact that the clickbait that covers the Ukrainian conflict on a daily basis is creating a reverse Pygmalion Effect that aims to produce the worst outcome for Putin:
“Putin is mentally ill and has been a psychopath since childhood, lacking normal empathy.” International Business Times onJune 26, 2022
“Putin will be dead in two years as he suffers from ‘several grave diseases’.” The Sun on June 27, 2022
“Nurse speculates Putin has symptoms of Parkinson’s.” Newsweek on March 8, 2022
“President Putin suffering from ‘rapidly progressing cancer’.” msn.com on May 31, 2022
“Vladimir Putin has…likely survived assassination attempt.” NY Post onJune 2, 2022
“Cancer-riddled Putin surrounded by doctors…” BBC on May 19, 2022
“How Putin has survived FIVE assassination attempts.” The Sun on May 23, 2022
“Russian municipal deputies call for Putin’s resignation.” The Hill on September 12, 2022
“Russian officials demand Putin resign amid Ukraine losses.” Newsweek onSeptember 13, 2022
“Putin coup is underway and impossible to stop.” Yahoo news onSeptember 13, 2022
“Russian resistance is growing against Putin’s war.” NY Post onMarch 2, 2022
“The Russian military should overthrow Putin.” The Hill on March 14, 2022
“Fully-fledged revolt against Putin is near.” Newsweek on September 10, 2022
“As Russians retreat, Putin is criticized by hawks.” NY Times on September 10, 2022
“Russian officers turn against Putin for military incompetence.” Bipartisanreport on May 31, 2022
“Rogue Russian generals should assassinate ‘demented’ Putin.” The Sun on March 5, 2022
“Russian elites planning to overthrow Putin.” NY Post on March 20, 2022
“Sean Hannity suggests Vladimir Putin should be assassinated.” Washington Post March 3, 2022
These lowlights are quite literally a drop in the bucket of incessant news messaging that stays remarkably consistent along a few pointed political lines: Putin is not well, whether mentally, physically, or both; Putin is not a competent military strategist and his decisions are pushing his own military to ultimately move against him; the Russian people, whether that is defined as everyday citizens, politicians, or elites, are universally against Putin and ready to force his removal; things are so bad within the Putin inner circle that he is constantly needing to fend off assassination attempts and is becoming paranoid about future efforts.
In psychology, there is a well-known phenomenon called the Pygmalion Effect, in which high expectations lead to an improved performance in a desired area. The effect comes from the ancient Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor who fell so much in love with a beautiful statue he made that the sheer force of his desire and will ended up bringing the statue to life. In contemporary experiments, the effect was shown even more powerfully by manipulating the positive impression of experts (in this case, high school teachers). When the educators were given information ahead of the start of the school year about a particular group of students having uniquely high IQs, it ended up altering their overall perception and subsequently changed their actual behavior toward said students. This perceptional and behavioral change resulted in the pre-identified group of students excelling in the class because of the intense support and effort given to them by their preconditioned teachers. In other words, the Pygmalion Effect essentially preordained the desired outcome by influencing the thoughts and actions of the critical actor group.
For the most part, contemporary psychology has focused on this for its ability to positively impact situations and people, bringing about an improvement over the original condition observed. However, this effect is actually “adjective neutral,” in that the end result being positive or negative simply depends on how the actual conditions are manipulated. In this case, it can be clearly seen how American foreign policy messaging for the last six months has been pushing consistently through numerous mass media sources a “reverse Pygmalion effect.” If successful, it would ideally end up with Putin being removed forcibly from office, either by political intrigue, military coup, illness, or assassination. In fact, one could cynically frame this as not even a reversed effect, given that some American strategists might see the end result as the actual best-case scenario, thus maintaining the Pygmalion phenomenon as an innately positive endeavor. Regardless, it is striking how little attention is being paid to what is essentially a media-driven PSYOPS initiative that is technically illegal in formal American law (the United States claims to be against the open endorsement and/or pursuit of forced removal/assassination of the lawful leaders of other countries.)
This is important not just in the abstract, as a treatise against fomenting an emotional and psychological environment that results in assassination. Rather, the ultimate importance in examining this negative Pygmalion Effect within the Ukrainian conflict is that it does not happen in a vacuum: the constant pushing of message to undermine Putin’s authority, leadership, health, and standing also has the additional consequence of influencing how all other subsequent news reports are interpreted. Remember, there is no point in creating a Pygmalion Effect to hurt Putin if it also doesn’t have a pronounced impact on the Ukrainian conflict overall. It is this fact that might finally provide an explanation to a mystery that has plagued the situation for some time: how and why are rational strategic maneuvers conducted by the Russian military always being construed in a highly controversial and inaccurate light?
For example, since the special military operation began, the Russian military pulled back from Kiev but did not shell the city center (with all of its important cultural, historical, and religious places and artifacts) into oblivion. This restraint has been utterly ignored in the West. Russian forces have in a number of instances taken control of and maintained several nuclear facilities, keeping them under stable operating conditions. This has been covered instead as a threat of Russia potentially and insanely creating “several Chernobyls” right on its own doorstep. Russia has openly acknowledged the massive importation of deadly American weapons into Ukraine for the express purpose of killing Russians. Instead of using that as a catalyst to enlarge the war directly to the US, Russia has continued to emphasize diplomatic overtures with the Americans and kept the conflict exclusively regional. Those overtures have been rejected and/or unacknowledged. There are numerous reports by groups like Amnesty International that corroborate evidence of Ukrainian units regularly “hiding in plain sight” (ie, getting rid of all formal military uniforms and taking position in civilian centers, apartment buildings, and hospitals). This reality has been largely sidestepped in Western reporting, instead emphasizing how Russian military units are launching attacks against civilian areas. Despite this supposed Russian strategy, the overall numbers of Ukrainian civilian casualties are incredulously small for a major military like Russia, especially ifsaid military was truly aiming to attack and kill as many civilians as possible. Again, the factual evidence is never pushed or emphasized to Western audiences.
There are many such instances like this since the Ukrainian conflict began, all treated in the same way. None of which made any sense…until one considers the reverse Pygmalion Effect being pushed out to all those operating against Russia. It results in audiences completely missing or misinterpreting legitimate opportunities upon which the two warring sides could have positively built, leading to a rapprochement and, ultimately, a mutually satisfying end to the conflict. But that, unfortunately, shows the crux of the problem: from the American perspective, a mutually satisfying end to the conflict would actually be construed as a loss. This proxy war recreated in America’s image now has an obvious and somewhat vicious objective: what was at first simply an attempt to interfere in the regional projection of Russian power has been transformed into the actual hope of deposing Putin, one way or another. It may come across a bit speculative to argue here that America wants Putin dead. But, given the examination above, only this kind of end to the Putin regime would seemingly make America truly believe the “Putin problem” is solved. But America should be careful what it wishes for: over ten years ago I wrote a popular, but controversial, article titled “How to Make a Russian Demon.” The US better be sure it really wants to deal with one.
Nationalist’s search
Returning morals and ethics to domestic and foreign policymaking
Dr. Matthew Crosston is Executive Vice Chairman of ModernDiplomacy.eu and chief analytical strategist of I3, a strategic intelligence consulting company. All inquiries regarding speaking engagements and consulting needs can be referred to his website: https://profmatthewcrosston.academia.edu/
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Explainer: European Media Freedom Act
China’s Proxy War in Ukraine
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Vote for Brexit, election of Donald trump in the same year, surge of leaders like marine Le pen in France, Rodrigo Duterte, Jair bolsonaro in Brazil inter alia, in turkey, all these events have recently reinvigorate the global world’s threat of nationalism and morphed it into the neo nationalism. This neo nationalism has a slew of acute concomitant principles like right wing populism, nativism, anti-globalization, anti-immigration and many others. The reasons for the rise of this nativist populism and new nationalism have been defined by many thereby we have a number of different versions of it in letter but same in spirit.
Michael Hirsh who is an American journalist explained neo nationalism as “bitter populist rejection of the status quo that the global elites have imposed on the international system since the cold war ended, and which the lower income voters have decided is unfair”. Neo nationalism has also been called by Eirikur Bergmann, who is Professor of Politics, as a nativist populism. Many learned political scientists have drawn the Link between the recent emergence of new nationalism with the global economic meltdown of 2008 and the great depression with right wing populism. However, there are a number of means and tools that need to be unveiled by the nationalists to bolster their erroneous claims.
These nationalists have recently embarked to venture into the discovery of the novel but effective means to expand their scope and materialize their nationalist goals. In this pursuit, Food and sports are the means recently explored by these nationalists.
The ideological use of food to demarcate the people who belong to a certain community and its vernaculars and those who do not. Halal tortellini and a pork-free lasagna in Italy, beef and cow slaughtering in India, couscous and kebabs in Europe have outraged the right wing, nativist leaders against the people who they deemed them as outsiders. In this discussion, not mentioning Fabio Parasecoli would surely be unjust. He is a professor at New York University in the nutrition and food studies department. Being a competent authority in this subject matter, he has recently authored a book entitled Gastronativism: food, identity and politics,  in which he sheds the light on the way the food has been transformed into the ideological weapon that the nationalists have been wielding to expand their agenda that’s to construct the ideas of us vs them. To better answer the how part of this debate, we have to dive deep into its historical evidence.
As globalization and neo liberalism started to transcend the borders, that global, borderless system and economic interdependent organization of nations and states irrevocably altered the course of global food chain supply. This new intervention makes it expedient for everyone to get the food that they want to put on their table without worrying about the borders and distant cultures. As the food traverses across the borders, nationalists are vehemently making hay while the sun shines – the global food chain supply is the sun in this analogy.
The people who are brandishing this ideological tool, urging people to return their roots, and mistakenly imploring people to like the native food, ingredients and cultural heritage. There is nothing to criticize those who have the appetite for their food but should not invoke resentment and contempt for those who like otherwise, but it is none of the nationalists’ business. To channelize the pride in cultural heritage and culinary tradition, as nationalists vying for, impedes the marginalized and oppressed people to integrate in the society and at the same time resisting the translation and multinational corporation that the world has achieved after learning lessons at the enormous cost. Ostensibly, it is not the sole tool the nationalists invented, the sports is the other one to materialize their nationalist agendas.
Sport perhaps the only social activity, and more pronounced if there would be any such activity in the contemporary world which stages the national flag hoisting, national anthems playing and many others such activities both formally by the organizers and informally by the spectators in the field. All these events at this social activity allure the nationalists to express their overt national sentiments, thereby as a whole, the sport has been taking a central stage for everyone concerned with their national ambitions. To bring it into the cognizance of the readers, the synergy between sports and nationalism, we have to meticulously explore subtleties of it.
Baron pierre de coubertain, who established the modern Olympics in 1896, who also spearheaded the organization of international sports wrote assertively about sporting event that it would bring together Young male athletes from across the Globe, he was only specifically concerned with the physical well being of their own french men who were desolated and demoralized after the crushing defeat in the Franco German war.  Sports that have a global governing body akin to the United Nations, namely FIFA and ICC, consist exclusively of representatives of sovereign nation states in the global north and of behemoth countries in the global south. It vividly alludes towards the hitherto established ambitions.
Moreover, Olympics being free from all kinds of discriminations and partisanship and aimed to promote global peace has always been seen as being tainted by the nationalists and political agendas whether through boycott, protests or propagandas. Here enumerating the few such events. Proposed boycott by western countries of the Berlin Olympics in 1933 for being appalled by the Hitler’s racist policies and human rights violations at that time. Jesse Owens, the African American by winning four Gold medals singlehandedly destroyed the Nazi’s Aryan superiority as many considered. Additionally, Japan and Germany were prohibited from participating in the first Olympics after the second world war in 1948.
As it is now more evident than ever before that, the sportsmen and more specifically the cricketers have more say, influence and intrigue. While examining the ethnography of Asian sports, it is quite clear that cricket is now no longer England’s national game but has eventually become the central game of India, Pakistan, Sri lanka inter alia, their diaspora in the west. As British writer, V S Naipaul aptly stated that we were a society with no heroes, except cricketers.  As it is sportsmen who have that undue obligation to satiate the desires of oppressed and dispossessed. Clearly, Imran Khan, here in Pakistan now not been hailed for being a sportsman conversely, for being the torchbearer for justice and accountability. It is not the only case here, but it can also be manifested in Chicago, USA wherein the people of color who have long been socially, ethnically and economically ghettoized, hail no heroes but the sportsman Michael Jordan.
Evidently, after dealing with the synergy between sports and nationalist agendas and prides it is expedient to deal with the why question. Interestingly, the nationalists are aware of this fact that by winning the game or representing the strong, robust and skilled people at the international or national stage, it makes the people willing to applaud the culture, ethnicity and society as a whole is worth living and worth defending at every cost. In this sense, sports begets great national pride in their citizens. Moreover, sports is often construed as the means to expand goodwill and peace. It is not always the case.
Ruefully, sports instead of promoting peace and amusing people, has over the period, employed by the neo nationalists to deliver otherwise. Christopher Hitchens once wrote, ” As George Orwell wrote in his 1945 essay ‘The sporting spirit’, after yet another outbreak of combined mayhem and chauvinism on the international soccer field, ‘sports is an unfailing cause of ill-will’”. As he went further, “the international sporting contests lead to orgies of hatred; one could deduce it from general principles”. Such sports have an overarching political ramification.
The recent 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing has also accentuated such political implications that international sports can have.  When the US and allies announced the diplomatic boycott, Russian president Vladimir Putin flew to Beijing and had a meeting with China’s counterpart almost after two years and then two counties issued a statement denouncing the NATOs expansion which Putin used as a reason for Moscow’s westward expansion in Ukraine. The greatest political implication was China’s joining Russia to eschew its ideologized cold war approaches. In contradiction to unity as propounded by IOC president the game aimed to, conflict oftentimes celebrated, which has always been the nationalist’s ambition.
To sum up, in the contemporary global world, nationalists are endeavoring to explore new tools and weapons to materialize the nationalist’s goals, in this struggle, food and sports are the recently invented promising tools. By brandishing these two tools, the wielders of these are expanding their scope and at the same time, making people wary of the transnational, multilateral and international platforms, which are apt to grant the world with global solutions to combat with Global problems.
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The Biden administration is mulling whether to grant Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sovereign immunity in a case related to the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi. The journalist’s fiancé and a non-profit organization he helped found filed the lawsuit in a Washington district court.
The court has extended its original August 1 deadline until October 3 for the administration to advise Judge John Bates on whether it believes that Mr. Bin Salman qualifies for sovereign immunity, a status usually reserved for heads of state, heads of government, and foreign ministers.
It is hard to believe that the administration would refuse the crown prince immunity following US President Joe Biden’s July pilgrimage to the kingdom and the energy crisis sparked by sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
Mr. Biden’s visit intended to repair relations with a country that he had described as a “pariah” state during his election campaign. Moreover, it came after Mr. Biden had refused to deal directly with Mr. Bin Salman in the president’s first 18 months in office.
It is equally unlikely that the court would go against the probable advice of the administration to grant immunity to Mr. Bin Salman.
One consideration in the administration’s deliberations may be whether Mr. Bin Salman would want to be more cooperative in addressing the energy crisis by pumping more oil and pressuring the Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its partners to increase their production levels in a bid to reduce prices in return for immunity.
Mr. Bin Salman has, so far, given little, if anything, in response to Mr. Biden’s pilgrimage but has benefitted from the boost the president gave to the crown prince’s rehabilitation in the United States and Europe.
The killing of Mr. Khashoggi and the Yemen war turned Mr. Bin Salman into a tarnished, unwelcome figure in Western capitals. In the wake of Mr. Biden’s pilgrimage, Mr. Bin Salman has made his first trip to Europe with stops in Greece and France. In addition, the crown prince is expected to travel to London in the coming days to offer his condolences for the death of Queen Elizabeth.
Whatever the judge decides, the stakes go far beyond the legal aspects and the political fallout of his eventual ruling.
Double standards
The likely ruling in favour of Mr. Bin Salman will spotlight double standards in politics and policymaking and the lack of a moral and ethical yardstick.
Too often, opportunism, in the absence of inclusive moral and ethical standards, allows leaders, officials, policymakers, and politicians to prioritise their interests rather than those of the nation or affected people elsewhere.
The likely ruling will also raise the question of why governments, leaders, and officials should be held to a different standard before the law.
The issue of double standards is closely related to a debate about the principle of universal jurisdiction that legal systems like those of Spain and Belgium have appropriated for themselves and how they relate to the mandate of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
In 2014, the Spanish parliament curtailed the country’s universal jurisdiction after a Spanish judge issued arrest warrants for former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and four senior Chinese officials on charges of human rights abuses in Tibet. The jurisdiction enabled the prosecution of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet that has yet to establish a standard for accountability.
A Hippocratic Oath
A recent special edition of International Affairs, an academic journal, implicitly approaches the debate about the lack of a moral and ethical yardstick that undergirds politics and policymaking by suggesting that academics, analysts, and practitioners revisit the maxim of seeking to replicate past policy successes as the basis for the crafting of new policies.
Instead, contributors to the journal argue that examining how to avoid catastrophic failure might be a better way of going about it. In doing so, the editors of the special edition, Daniel W. Drezner and Amrita Narlikar, again implicitly, call for out-of-the-box thinking. They propose the application of the medical sector’s Hippocratic Oath to international relations. The oath obliges doctors to avoid doing harm.
“The Hippocratic Oath principle in IR (international relations) serves as a cautionary warning against action merely for action’s sake. There is a bias in politics towards ‘doing something’ in response to an event. Doing something, however, is not the same as doing the right thing,… A Hippocratic Oath asks policymakers to weigh the costs and risks of viable policy options before proceeding,” the editors argue in their introduction to the special edition.
Responding to former White House chief of staff and onetime secretary of State and of the Treasury James Baker’s observation that policy solutions often create problems that need to be ameliorated at a later stage, Mr. Drezner and Ms. Narlikar note that this is an “endemic problem created by the mismatch between the grand arc of international relations and the powerful short-term incentives that political leaders face.”
Inclusive Morals and Ethics
The issue of inclusive morals and ethics in politics and policymaking has been further pushed to the forefront by the fact that recent international events and trends, including the controversy over the 2020 US presidential election; Britain’s exit from the European Union; the Russian invasion of Ukraine; ethnoreligious nationalism in Russia, China, Hungary, Serbia, India, and Israel as well as among American Christian nationalists; and bloodshed in the Middle East, involve civilizational choices and policies that often violate international law and challenge a world order based on heterogeneous nation-states and/or propagate exclusionist policies.
Inclusive morals and ethics come into play when conservatives claim civilizational superiority based on allegedly more advanced development and argue that the “fundamental foreign policy blunder of our times (that) has been at the root of the West’s promotion of wrong policies in LCL (Lower Civilizational Level) societies — such as parliamentary democracy, religious freedom, excessive liberties, etc. — that have proven highly destructive to the stability and advancement of many LCL societies that were not ready for them.”
Morals and ethics also become essential in countering the argument by conservatives and segments of the left that immigration and multiculturalism spark “civilizational trauma and severe terror attacks.” The implicit equation of Islam and terrorism ignores the fact that Christian nationalists account for a fair share of recent violent attacks, including the 2011 killings in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik, the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, and the 2019 mosque murders in New Zealand.
Culture vs. Racism
Conservatives and civilisationalists frame their politics and policies as a cultural battle rather than an expression of racism. For example, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban argues that his opposition to mixing Europeans and non-Europeans and pursuing a homogenous Christian Hungary “is not a racial issue for us. This is a question of culture. Quite simply, our civilization should be preserved as it is now.”
Mr. Orban’s philosophy echoes far-right Russian ideologue Alexander Dugin who asserts the cultural battle “is a war of ideas. We are not part of the global civilisation. We are a civilisation by ourselves. … We had no other possibility to prove that Huntington was right without attacking Ukraine.”
He was referring to the late Harvard University political scientist Samuel P. Huntington who controversially predicted a post-Cold War clash of civilisations that would be fought not between countries but between cultures.
In his hugely influential ultra-nationalist tome, The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia, published in the 1990s, Mr. Dugin envisions a clash of civilisation between the West and a Eurasian bloc supported by Russia.
The ideologue further argues that “it is especially important to introduce geopolitical disorder…encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups.”
In doing so, Mr. Dugin unwittingly argues for re-introducing inclusive morals and ethics into politics and policymaking. Their absence and the lack of a consensus on an inclusive definition of national interest has led to a world in which gaps in income distribution have become ever more yawning, and more and more societal groups are marginalised and disenfranchised. Racism and repression are on the rise and have become mainstream, and the world is moving ever closer to the abyss of a third global war.
Shared responsibility
Discussing the attempted killing in August of Salman Rushdie and his own experience of being surrounded by bodyguards, Turkish Literature Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk puts a share of the responsibility for greater adherence to inclusive morals on ethics on journalists and writers who have the luxury to work in an environment of freedom.
Mr. Pamuk noted in an article in The Atlantic that Mr. Rushdie’s assailant was a 24-year-old clerk in a department store. “If we hope to see the principle of freedom of expression thrive in society, the courage of writers like Salman Rushdie will not suffice; we must also be brave enough to think about the sources of the furious hatred they are subjected to,” Mr. Pamuk wrote.
“What we need to do is use our privilege of free speech to acknowledge the role of class and cultural differences in society—the sense of being second- or third-class citizens, of feeling invisible, unrepresented, unimportant, like one counts for nothing—which can drive people toward extremism,” he went on to say.
“In many cases, these differences in class and social status have become taboo subjects that nobody wishes to hear or dares speak about. The news media, reluctant to appear to be somehow condoning violence, don’t dwell on the fact that the people who turn to it tend to be poor, uneducated, and desperate,” Mr. Pamuk said.
A utopian task
Key questions dominate discussions about civilisationalism and the importance of inclusive morals and ethics for politics and policymaking. These questions include what does it mean to be a nation? What do citizens need to agree on to be or become a people? And must the ‘people’ be united, or can they be divided?
In a twist of irony, Islam scholar and public intellectual Shadi Hamid notes that debate in the 21st century about existential issues of culture, identity, and religion initially emerged in the Middle East during the 2011 popular Arab revolts and only several years later in other parts of the world.
“During the heady, sometimes frightening days of the Arab Spring, the region was struggling over some of the same questions Americans are contending with today,” Mr. Hamid says. In the absence of a strong liberal trend and/or a secular-liberal consensus, the debate was dominated by illiberal Islamists who “were carrying the banner of anti-­liberalism before anti-liberalism was cool.”
Kickstarting the process
Changing the foundations on which policies are crafted, and politics are conducted is an almost utopian task. It is likely to be a generational endeavour driven by religious and non-religious, independent civil society groups that harness a combination of activism and education rather than governmental non-governmental organizations that do a regime’s bidding.
To kickstart the process, media, including social media platforms, would have to play an essential role in changing what voters and the public expect from their leaders, whether elected or not.
Similarly, public relations, crisis management, and lobbying firms would have to be held accountable to a code of conduct that emphasizes truthfulness, transparency, and ensuring that campaigns are fact-based rather than built on knowingly false or manufactured information and on genuine grassroots organizations instead of special purpose proxies created to promote a narrative.
That was the motto of the late, controversial American strategic advisor, Arthur Rubinstein, credited for the electoral victories of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Benyamin Netanyahu, and Victor Orban.
Filmmaker Edo Zuckerman, a close association of Finkelstein, who was dubbed ‘Arthur the Terrible’ by his opponents, quoted the strategist as saying: “During the campaign, you don’t lie in anything that you publish. There must be a tested and true basis of truth to what you do,”
In addition to a measure of honesty, stakeholders and the public would have to push for a return to civil interaction in which opposing parties listen to one another rather than increasingly seek to repress, intimidate, and crowd out divergent and dissident voices.
One example of an effort to restore inclusive morals and ethics to policy and policymaking is Christian opposition to Christian nationalism.
“Christian nationalism creates this false idol of power and leads us to confuse political authority with religious authority, And in that way causes us to put our patriotism, our allegiance to America, above our allegiance to God,” says Amanda Tyler, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and the lead organizer of Christians Against Christian Nationalism. Moreover, she argues that Christian nationalism violates the teaching of loving your neighbour as yourself.
Ms. Tyler’s activism underscores the likelihood that morals and ethics embedded in respect of human dignity and rights as the organizing principle of politics and policymaking will be grounded in shared values derived from religion, irrespective of one’s attitude towards religion or religiosity.
No alternative to religion
No alternative to religion has emerged as a moral and ethical yardstick for societies and systems of governance, whether religious or secular.
Major attempts at creating a yardstick, for example, by Communism, Kemalism, the philosophy on which Mustafa Kemal Ataturk carved the modern Turkish state out of the ruins of the Ottoman empire, or Zionism that sought to transform an amorphous religious and national identity into a more clearly defined Jewish identity, lost their relevance once they were no longer fit for the purpose.
As a result, almost no contemporary state, no matter how different, has a societal moral and ethical yardstick that is not inspired by religion.
Take, for example, the United States and Saudi Arabia. Both have religiously inspired moral and ethical yardsticks. In the United States, Christianity is the overriding inspiration; in the kingdom, it is Islam.
Of course, one significant difference is the positioning of the yardstick.
In the United States, it was historically a benchmark rather than a hard and fast rule to which adherence was voluntary. A commitment was, by and large, regulated socially rather than legally. In the kingdom, the yardstick is the religious law that authorities harshly enforced.
Perhaps surprisingly, China too fits the bill. It does so in its recognition of the centrality of religion by seeking, often brutally, to control, if not repress, religion.
Laying out a roadmap
Infusing morals and ethics into politics and policy and tackling double standards in applying the law come together in Judge Bates’ court case and Mr. Biden’s effort to defend democracy at home and abroad. The ability to do so depends on the US administration and civil society.
One approach may be that the administration lays out a roadmap that tackles the legitimate charge that US policy is hypocritical by establishing criteria for maintaining morals and ethics in domestic and foreign policy to justify instances where that is not immediately possible. Civil society would have to hold the administration and business’ feet to the fire.
A draft of the Pentagon’s 1992 Defense Planning Guidance seemed to take a stab at crafting a roadmap. The draft stipulated that “while the U.S. cannot become the world’s ‘policeman’ by assuming responsibility for righting every wrong, we will retain pre-eminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations.”
Irrespective of its merits, the proposed definition was problematic because it was put forward in the context of a strategy that called for a permanent US military dominance in much of Eurasia that would allow the United States rather than the United Nations Security Council to act as the ultimate guarantor of international peace and security.
The strategy envisioned achieving that goal by “deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role” and by pre-empting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Key elements of that strategy have guided US foreign policy ever since, even if the draft in its final form was watered down after a leak sparked a public uproar because of its overarching imperial character. Those elements were reinforced in the wake of the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks two decades ago on New York and Washington with devastating consequences.
As a senator at the time, Mr. Biden ridiculed the draft as “literally a Pax Americana… It won’t work. You can be the world superpower and still be unable to maintain peace throughout the world,” he quipped.
A layered approach
Another approach argues that the solution is not an overarching doctrine or construct for American foreign policy because, unlike in the Cold War, the world is confronted with too many challenges that cannot be squeezed into one ideological construct. Moreover, America’s rivals, Russia and China, command natural resources, economic heft, and centrality to global commerce that the Soviet Union could only have dreamt about.
“That does not mean that the United States should simply wing it and approach every foreign policy issue in isolation. But instead of a single big idea, Washington should use a number of principles and practices to guide its foreign policy and reduce the risk that the coming decade will produce a calamity,” says Richard Haass, the president of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations and former senior State Department and National Security Council official.
Mr. Drezner and Ms. Narlikar, the editors of the International Affairs special edition, make a similar point by suggesting that “the margin for policy error is getting thinner across the globe. States in the twenty-first century will be confronting an array of Machiavellian and Malthusian threats: great power competition, political polarization, pandemics, climate change, and so forth.”
The problem with Mr. Haass’ approach is that it amounts to repackaging realpolitik without the guidance of morals and ethics but by the notion of stability rather than principle.
Starting at home
Mr. Haass may be right that democracy promotion needs to start in the United States, where democracy is on the defensive.
“The biggest risk to US security in the decade to come is to be found in the United States itself. A country divided against itself cannot stand, nor can it be effective in the world, as a fractious United States will not be viewed as a reliable or predictable partner or leader. Nor will it be able to tackle its domestic challenges,” he says.
To be sure, Mr. Biden’s positioning of the preservation of democracy and the strengthening of ‘democratic resilience’ abroad is the one pillar of his foreign policy that dovetails neatly with his struggle at home to hamper efforts to undermine democratic norms and the principles of fair elections and peaceful transition of power. Mr. Biden has dubbed his domestic endeavour “a battle for the soul of this nation.”
In effect, Mr. Biden’s emphasis on preservation rather than the promotion of democracy constitutes a finetuning of liberal internationalism that revolves around the idea that global stability comes from democratic systems, free markets, and participation in American-led multinational organizations.
While not surrendering the principle, it implicitly suggests that stability can be achieved in a world where democratic and non-democratic systems of governance can cohabitate and compete simultaneously.
Winning friends
Scholar and journalist C. Mohan Raja suggests that one prerequisite for successful cohabitation is a US return to the classical diplomatic effort of winning friends and influencing people.
That, Mr. Mohan Raja says, would have to “involve a decisive shift away from the Western preachiness of the last three decades.” Instead, the United States would have to “focus…on the individual concerns, vulnerabilities, and interests of key states in the developing world.”
The Biden administration’s framing of the Ukraine war as a confrontation between democracies and autocracies is a case in point. The administration would have likely found greater resonance in Asia, Africa, and Latin America had it portrayed the conflict in less ideological terms and narrowly stuck to what the war was about: the defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as a matter of international law.
Even so, the question remains whether cohabitation and competition are a sufficient basis in the 21st century for ideological and geopolitical rivals to cooperate in tackling global problems such as global inequality, environmental calamity, economic recovery, nuclear proliferation, and emergencies like a pandemic.
The administration’s problem is that the line between democracy preservation and democracy promotion is potentially blurry and could be, at best cosmetic. Mr. Biden has requested hundreds of millions of dollars from Congress for pro-democracy initiatives, including two programs to support anti-corruption efforts, independent journalism, elections, and pro-democracy activists. Whether there is a difference between preservation and promotion is likely to be determined by how and where those funds, if allocated, are distributed.
Reversing course
The example of Saudi Arabia in the runup and the aftermath of Mr. Biden’s July pilgrimage to the kingdom pinpoints the pitfalls of crafting a foreign policy that embraces morals, ethics, and realpolitik.
Mr. Bin Salman has stepped up his crackdown on dissent and civil society activism since the Biden visit. For example, two Saudi women arrested in 2021 were sentenced in August by terrorism courts to respectively 34 and 45 years in prison for tweets that allegedly “used the internet to tear the social fabric” of the kingdom and “violated public order by using social media.”
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia executed 81 people in March when the United States and the kingdom were likely already negotiating the visit.
Meanwhile, Mr. Biden departed Saudi Arabia with little, if anything, to show for himself in terms of geopolitical, energy, or human rights gestures, not even the release of US nationals held for political reasons in Saudi prisons or banned from leaving the kingdom.
This is not to say that Mr. Haas is incorrect in arguing that democracy promotion often leads to a push for regime change that either backfires or fails. Instead, he suggests a foreign policy that favours multilateralism.
It is “better to pursue realistic partnerships of the like-minded, which can bring a degree of order to the world, including specific domains of limited order, if not quite world order,” Mr. Haass says.
Political scientist Igor Istomin bolsters Mr. Haass’s argument by pointing out that foreign interference in the politics of a country by supporting proxies is unlikely to enable those groups to gain power. If they do, they are more likely than not to encounter “difficulties in converting such accomplishments into benefits for an interfering state.” Moreover, they will be hindered by “the emotional grievances from unfulfilled expectations.” The forever US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are exhibit one.
At first glance, much of this may seem to be pie in the sky. Returning to a modicum of inclusive morals and ethics-infused policy and policymaking is not a process that will produce results overnight.
However, the fact is that the current concept of politics and policymaking has put the world, irrespective of individual political systems, on a debilitating and dangerous downward spiral. A healthy debate about the foundation of politics and policymaking is one way to kickstart attempts to reverse course.
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America has the highest gun possession rate of all the countries, with over 270 million people owning at least one of these firearms. Of every 100 people in the State, 89 have a gun. When asked why they chose to have it, two-thirds of these people claimed protection as the major reason. Possession of a gun can make you feel safer and more in control of your protection. Statistics have shown that this may have caused more harm than good. In the following paragraphs, we will cite real examples of the incidents caused by firearm possessions and how society is failing because of this.
As college students, it is important that you know all the key facts concerning Americans and guns. You should be aware that although the constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms, there is a need for control. As an additional resource, you should find gun control arguments on free paper sample websites that explain this topic in detail. Written by professionals, these samples will explain the issue of gun control, the pross, and cons of owning guns, and other people’s opinions regarding this question and the U.S. constitution to your understanding.
After reading the gun control essay on Eduzaurus, you can check out the following paragraphs for important facts about gun possession in America and if gun control is the answer.
In the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Americans were given the right to bear arms for sports shooting, hunting, or protection. One-third of adults in the United States have personally claimed to own at least one.
Of course, there are good sides to this; reports from 2015 showed that over 35,000 Americans died due to firearm-related deaths in that same year. This brought the death count to about 11.3 out of 100,000 people dying from firearm violence.
As of 2022, gun-related deaths are among the top three leading causes of death in the United States, with about 7 children dying each other and more than 12 being left injured. This is why earlier this year, President Joe Biden attempted to propose a new restriction on firearm possession and access.
The Pew Research center surveyed in 2021 to find out what the average American feels concerning gun violence and possession. These results showed that 48% of Americans living in the U.S. see it as the number one problem facing society today.
The remaining percentage of people still bordered on the fact that it is a small or moderate problem, while only six agreed that it was no problem. During the survey, it was discovered that the differing opinions on this were majorly influenced by the race or ethnicity of the individual.  82% of black people agreed that gun violence is a major problem in society, the highest polling number accrued by any race in the survey. It is followed closely by the Hispanics, where 58% of the adults agreed that it is a problem. Only 38% of the Whites agreed to this.
Still, according to the 2022 survey by the Pew Center, more than half of Americans want stricter firearm laws. 32% argued that the current law is strict enough, while 14% said they would prefer it if it were less strict.
While there are so many debates on whether a stricter law would lead to a decrease in mass shootings, Americans have remained divided on this issue. 34% of the people think that if fewer people possessed this, the crime rate would increase, 34% believe the rate would remain the same, while 31% think there will be a drastic reduction in the crime rate.
Despite all the research and debates, Americans are still conflicted and have a complete relationship with firearms. They have broad exposure to it, regardless of whether they own one or not. It is not shocking that in a 2020 survey by Pew Research Center, 55% of Americans who have never owned a gun confessed to having shot one at a point.
Even though this may be so, everyone must be careful when it comes to firearms. Protection might be a major reason why owners possess this firearm, but the other dangers should not be overlooked.
Although we hope to have favorable laws in the future, we can only join hands to make society safer for each other right now, with or without firearms.
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