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Mangy Jay @magi_jay
, 47 tweets, 8 min read Read on Twitter
1/ The “what about American imperialism” response to Russian interference is irritating on multiple levels, beginning w/ the fact that it’s simply illogical. It’s additionally irritating b/c it reveals either profound ignorance or indifference w/ regards to human rights.
2/ So first, this particular brand of “whataboutism” seems to assume that the U.S. has been an equally bad actor on the international stage across Democratic & Republican administrations in the post-Vietnam era.

It has not been.
3/ I’m somewhat hesitant to talk about this b/c I am sure I will be peppered w/ “what about drones?” “what about Afghanistan?” “what about Libya?” “what about Somalia?” Etc.
4/ Don’t do that.

I’m not issuing a blanket endorsement of all U.S. foreign policy & military action during the Obama era, or the Clinton era, or the Carter era.
5/ We can—& should—have in-depth conversations about these issues, particularly w/ regards to the Obama administration, given its proximity to us in time. We can have convos about why some military actions shouldn’t have been taken. . . . .
6/ We can also have convos about whether the Obama admin *should have* engaged in more humanitarian intervention in some domains, most specifically: Syria.

(Not endorsing anything here other than the conversation).
7/ So: not saying those convos are off the table. Nor am I endorsing all foreign policy under Dem administrations. What I am saying is that U.S. aggression (& U.S. diplomacy) has differed across administrations and that is has been relatively less bad under Dems than Republicans
8/ We can also hold the U.S. accountable for its long history of aggression—from coups to proxy wars to the illegal invasion of a sovereign state—while also being pissed off about Russian interference in our elections.
9/ I’m in my 30's. I was a baby when Reagan was POTUS. A teenager when W. Bush was elected. When I learned the historic facts of U.S. intervention in Central & S. America, I was aghast & did everything I could to teach others what I had learned. I tried to hold the US accountable
10/ In the build up to the 2003 Iraq War, I was horrified. I protested. I learned everything I could about the United Nations & why it was founded & what it meant that our country was trampling all over international law. I cried. A lot. I’m not asking to get brownie points here.
11/ I *am* saying: It’s not hypocritical of me to be appalled at Russian intervention in our elections b/c the U.S. was also involved in the 1973 Chilean Coup.

Or b/c of the Iraq war.

I can be appalled at all of these things.
12/ & I honestly don’t see many people out there on the left or center left who are like, “What we did in East Timor was cool. Super happy the U.S. gave assistance to nationalist movements in Central & South America. Russian interference MAKES ME MAD! But the Iraq war was GREAT”
13/ If Henry Kissinger bemoans Russian interference, y’all can call him a hypocrite (and a monster, because he is one).

Or go after Reaganites. The same logic doesn’t apply to everyone else—including, for that matter, Barack Obama or his base of support.
14/ And, again, I’m not saying all of Obama’s policies are above reproach. I’m saying that the U.S. was moving in a fundamentally less militaristic & more diplomatic direction during the Obama years than during the W. Bush years.
15/ And the same is arguably true for other Democratic presidents after the Vietnam war (both of whom I was too young to ever support).
16/ And this gets me to a related set of irritating factors about this brand of whataboutism. It seems to ignore the fact that, um, during the latter half of the 20th century, RUSSIA WAS ALSO NOT A GOOD ACTOR.
17/ They had this thing called an “empire” you see. And it wasn’t exactly warm & fuzzy. (The U.S's involvement in coups wasn't warm & fuzzy either. See you can criticize multiple governments at the same time!!)
18/ Please note I am not saying, “What about Russia?” here. I’m saying both Russia & the U.S. engaged in bad actions during the 20th century. And, point of fact, both countries were involved in a bunch of overlapping bad shit (it’s called “The Cold War,” for your reference).
19/ The "U.S. imperialism" whataboutism gets even more irritating when one considers Russian actions against other states after Putin came back to power in 2012.
20/ During the Obama era, the Russian government, not the U.S. government, was interfering in foreign elections. The Russian government, not the U.S. government, were allegedly engaging in coup-like actions. nytimes.com/2016/11/26/wor…
21/ And we can have a complex conversation about *multilateral* actions taken in Libya, for example, but the justification for those actions was humanitarian in nature. The aim was not to seize territory. The same cannot be said for Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
22/ We can also have conversations about drone warfare, as well as other actions taken by the U.S. in the Middle East during the Obama administration. . . . . . .
23/ However, one thing should be clear: per all reports the Obama administration attempted to *minimize* civilian causalities, whereas the Russian government has attempted to maximize them. nytimes.com/2016/09/29/wor…
24/ A little bit louder for those in the back: the Russian government maximized civilian causalities in Syria as a method of war. They also participated in intentional siege warfare.
25/ You wanna know why I get pissed about this brand of "whataboutism?" Take a look at civilian death counts (pre-2017) under the U.S. government in both Iraq & Syria vs. Russian civilian casualties *in Syria alone*. airwars.org/data/
26/ Now this graphic leads me to the final point re what is so freaking irritating re: “what about U.S. imperialism?” When the RU government interfered in our elections, they interfered to elect a REPUBLICAN.
27/ &, again, post-Vietnam, the GOP has been *more* aggressive & *less* diplomatic than the Dems.

We see this playing out, yet again, w/ Trump. Do you see how death tolls ticked up in Syria & Iraq since Jan 2017?

(And don't even get me started on domestic policies).
28/ If you deny the contrast between the Trump and Obama admins in this regard, you’re being an anti-factual nitwit. In addition to this data, there have been multiple reports that Trump abandoned Obama era protocols w/ regards to civilian casualties. wapo.st/2IBb7Lh?tid=ss…
29/ This is also evident in the rhetoric surrounding North Korea. Did Obama take a bellicose stance towards NK? No. Has Trump? Yes. Has talk of illegal preventative strikes stepped up in the Trump era? YES. YES. AND YES.
30/ So, in 2016, what we have is a country that was becoming relatively less aggressive (the US) being interfered w/ by a country that was becoming more aggressive over the same period of time (RU).
31/ That interference, in turn, helped to elect a president who has *less* regard for human life w/in the global sphere than his predecessor.
32/ If you purport to actually care about human life, human suffering, imperialism, etc, you absolutely should be concerned about RU interference. Both b/c RU is itself a bad actor & b/c the product of its inference has led the U.S. back to a more aggressive posture in the world.
33/ None of this is negated by the fact that the U.S. has, historically, also been an aggressor.

The point is we were becoming *less* aggressive. And that, after Vietnam, Dem presidents have tended to be less aggressive than Republican ones

RU helped elect one of the bad ones
34/ So, overall, there are many intersecting issues w/ the “what about the U.S.?” strand of whataboutism in the context of Russian interference.
35/ First: it’s whataboutism. Which is not only illogical, but serves to minimize both bad actions that were committed in the past (by multiple actors—including the U.S.), as well as bad actions that were committed in the present.
36/ 2nd: It assumes that U.S. aggression has been constant across Dem & Republican admins in the post-Vietnam era. This simply isn’t the case. The U.S. has been more diplomatic & less aggressive under Carter, Clinton, & Obama than under their Republican predecessors & successors
37/ 3rd: It entertains the wild assumption that somehow those of us who are not responsible for previous aggressive U.S. administrations are somehow hypocritical for being outraged by RU interference. . . . .
38/ Save this charge for Henry Kissinger & his acolytes, not those of us who have spent the past decades voting for politicians who argue for diplomacy.
39/ 4th: It ignores the fact that, while the U.S. arguably became less aggressive during the Obama yrs, RU became more aggressive under Putin. This is esp. true in terms of territory expansion and methods of war, including minimization vs. maximization of civilian casualties.
40/ 5th: Most egregiously: this line of “argument” ignores that RU interference aided the party that has been, in modern history, more aggressive & less concerned w/ human rights. This is true both in terms of U.S. actions in the global sphere, as well as our own domestic policy.
41/ The Obama era represented a relatively greater turn towards diplomacy. It also signaled a turn towards greater equality & fewer abuses w/in our own borders.
42/ The Russian govt interfered w/ this process. And their interference turned the U.S. back down the road of bellicosity & human rights abuses. How many authoritarians has Trump embraced, again? & what’s his administration’s general stance on human rights around the globe?
43/ If you care about the history of the United States in the international domain, you should be PISSED about Russian interference. If you care about what the U.S. did in Iran, East Timor, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Iraq, ETC. you should be PISSED.
44/ Because RU interference has empowered people who endorse and/or ignore an aggressive, militaristic, anti-diplomatic, and anti-democratic United States.

The U.S. was doing better w/ regards to human rights. And now we are doing worse.

You.

Should.

Be.

Pissed.
45/ Further: Russian interference occurred while that same country was involved in increased aggression & human rights abuses both domestically AND internationally.

Basically--RU--a human rights abuser--interfered to help the U.S. elect their own human rights abuser.
46/ HOW CAN PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO CARE ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS NOT BE PISSED ABOUT THIS?
47/ Overall, the folks who make the "what about U.S. imperialism?" arguments think they’re revealing some deep hypocrisy in the rest of us. But they’re actually just showing us how illogical—and, yes—hypocritical—*they* really are.
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