• Trouble Follows When the U.S. Labels You a ‘Thug’

    August 16, 2016

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State, Military, Post-Constitution America

    hillary and putin.resized

    There is a nasty pattern in American political speech, going back into the 1980s at least: when a senior U.S. official labels you a thug, often times wars follow. Thug is the safest word of American Exceptionalism.

    So it is with some concern that lots of folks are pushing each other away from the mic to call Putin a thug (fun fact: Putin has been in effective charge of Russia for 15 years. As recently as the Hillary Clinton Secretary of State era, the U.S. sought a “reset” of relations with him.)

    While the current throwing of the term thug at Putin is tied to the weak evidence presented publicly linking a Russian hacker under Putin’s employ to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computers, there may be larger issues in the background. But first, a sample of the rhetoric.

    Putin the Thug

    Obama on Putin: “a thug who doesn’t understand his own best interests.”

    Mario Rubio on Putin: “A gangster and a thug.”

    Paul Ryan’s spokesperson on Putin: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug.”

    John McCain on Putin: “A bully and thug.”

    And for fun, Sir Peter Westmacott, Britain’s ambassador to the U.S. in 2014, on Putin: “A thug and a liar.”

    Thugs in American Military Adventurism

    That word, thug, seems to be a sort of dog whistle that when blown signals Americans and their media to psyche up for a new fight. For example:

    John Kerry on Bashar Assad: “A thug and murderer.”

    John Kerry on Islamic State: “Daesh [ISIS] is in fact nothing more than a mixture of killers, of kidnappers, of criminals, of thugs, of adventurers, of smugglers and thieves.”

    George W. Bush on al Qaeda: “If we let down our guard against this group of thugs, they will hurt us again.”

    George W. Bush on Saddam Hussein: “He is a thug.”

    Bernie Sanders on Gaddafi: “Look, everybody understands Gaddafi is a thug and murderer.”

    Madeline Albright found Somali thugs and thugs in the Balkans for her era’s wars.

    More Thugs

    There are also North Korean thugs, Iranian thugs and Ukrainian thugs. And Sudanese thugs and Panamainian thugs.

    But Why Putin, Now?

    Perhaps what we’re seeing here is a realignment for the next iteration of America’s perpetual war. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the conclusion of the Cold War (“the end of history”, as one author called it), there was no global enemy. No big nasty to spur weapons procurement, or to justify a huge standing military with hundreds of bases around the world, or to pick fights with to allow a boring president to morph into a superhero war president.

    A lot of people had a lot of power and money in play that demanded some bad guys. An attempt was made in the 1980s to make narco lords the new major bad guys, but they were too few in number and the popularity of drugs among Americans got in the way. Following 9/11, the bad guys were supposed to be “the terrorists.” The George W. Bush administration riffed off that theme, appointing Saddam a massive weapons of destruction threat and tagged on Iran and North Korea as part of an Axis of Evil, because, well, no one knows, things sound good in groups of threes.

    Saddam turned out to be a bust, and the Iraq War ultimately very unpopular. Bin Laden never launched a second attack on the U.S., and the Taliban were hard to picture, coming and going as they do. The U.S. made a good faith effort trying to label all sorts of others, Gaddafi, Assad, ISIS, et al, as global enemies worthy of perpetual war but they either were defeated, or are just plain are kicking American butt. Meanwhile, the Middle East in general turned into a huge, complicated, sticky clusterf*ck quagmire.

    A New Hope Emerges

    Like Batman, Washington needs an Arch Enemy, preferably one poster-child kind of guy who can be shown on TV looking like a Bond villain. With actual nukes (Washington spent years trying to convince us the terrorists were a 24/7 nuclear threat [smoking gun = mushroom cloud] and the damn terrorists never complied.)

    Enter Putin The Thug.

    Americans are already well-prepared by the old Cold War to see Russia as an evil empire, and Putin does look the part. A new Cold War with Russia will require lots of expensive military hardware, plus a large standing army and new areas of Europe to garrison. It might breathe new life into a NATO wondering why it still exists.

    For politicians, shouting about Muslim threats has proven to have a downside, as it has enflamed many Muslims and pushed them toward radicalization. It turns out also there are Muslim voters, and people who like Muslims, in the U.S. Putin doesn’t vote, only a handful of hippies think he’s a good guy, and he can be slapped around in sound bites relatively without risk.

    It is a political-military-industrial complex wet dream.

    And so I predict in the coming Hillary regime a tamping down of terrorism stuff and a ramping up of a new Cold War. After all, isn’t that what her mentor Henry Kissinger would do?

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • bloodypitchfork said...



      What’s the difference between a thug and a US President

      One is a professional murderer, liar, and bully who relies on others to carry out his violent agenda, and the other is simply a small time criminal who occasionally uses violence.

      Meanwhile, our present Thug in Chief continues using others to carry out the US legal imperialism’s violence across the planet…


      thug indeed. Obama redefines the word.

      08/16/16 5:43 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      The NYTimes has a hit piece out on Paul Manafort (Trump’s campaign advisor/manager dude) suggesting he got millions of bucks from the ousted leader of Ukraine. Ukraine is very close to Russia, I saw that on a map, and its former president, Yanukovych, did not go along with the IMF suggestions to impoverish his country, instead suggesting that Ukraine take the Russian no-interest loan. So we couped his ass, putting a neo-nazi regime in place. The Times piece is basing these Manafort allegations on some handwritten pieces of paper found in a “secret safe” which was just discovered and opened. Even the Times has to admit there are no actual bank transactions that match these handwritten notes, but the article goes on to mention other shit that ties Manafort to Ukraine and Russia and Putin and badness in general. See? I had to write Russia THREE TIMES just to explain the background of the article. Which obviously tells you something about Russia.

      (There is no mention in the article about how the US spent $5bb to coup Ukraine, no mention of the neoNazis, no mention of USAid, Soros, and Omidyar involvement, no mention of how Joe Biden’s son was immediately put in charge of an oil company in Ukraine after the coup so as to make some jack off the turmoil, no mention of the peculiarity of some Americans given overnight Ukrainian citizenship so they could become ministers in the new government, etc.)

      So I gather that yesterday, Trump gave a speech [sic] in which he talked about “extreme vetting” for Muslims who want to come to the US and used lots of references to ISIS. Oh, and he said that Russia would be a good partner in the fight against ISIS since Russia has problems with radical Islam and since Russia is kinda close to the troubled areas geographically. (Thus revealing his abject and hopeless love for Russia.) Then Joe Biden, on the trail with Her Pigness, gave a speech in response. The rebuttal, apparently, was that Trump loves Putin, wants to appease Russia, and that ISIS is so-o-o-o yesterday. Today is about Russia. Matter of fact, Biden added, he hisownself is going to the Baltic nations this week to assure them that the US will back them in any potential aggression coming from the Russkies. He failed to mention that there is no aggression coming from Russia, and did not point out that the US keeps moving the NATO forces closer to Russia, not the other way around. Semantics.

      Here’s how he finished his speech: “It’s never, never, never, ever been a good bet to bet against the United States of America! We never bow. We never bend. We never kneel. We never yield. We own the finish line. That’s who we are. We are America!”

      War-pig Clinton stood by his side and nodded in that weird bobblehead way she does, grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

      Sweet fancy Moses. Our political class has completely lost its collective mind.

      “We own the finish line.” What insane and unhinged rhetoric. I give us about two years after Clinton is placed on the throne before we realize the full, painful results of that mistake; these fools want WW3 in the worst way. At first I thought this election was just bizarre and embarrassing. Now I think this is the most dangerous position the American oligarchy has ever placed us in. We are so fucked.

      But this is the USA!USA!, so very soon, you too can help vote one of these misanthropes into office. HOO-rah.

      08/16/16 5:56 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      PS: Joe Biden, in a very direct and obvious effort to revive the Cold War era, said in his speech, “He’s [Trump] even showered praise on Saddam Hussein, one of the vilest dictators of the 20th century, a man who repeatedly backed terror attacks against Israel because he was supposedly–the reason he admires him–he was a killer of terrorists. That’s why he likes Saddam. He would have loved Stalin. He would have loved Stalin.”

      Stalin? Stalin???? Hasn’t he been, like, dead as a fucking doornail since 1953?

      Well, okay, I’ll bite. Stalin sucked. Except when he saved our asses in WW2, sacrificing 25 MILLION military troops in the successful effort to defeat the Nazis. Russia also lost 20 MILLION civilians when Germany invaded Russia. One in four Russians was either killed or wounded in WW2, counting both military and civilians. It is agreed by historians that Russia won WW2 for the Allies when she entered the war effort. Stalin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 1945 and 1948 for his efforts to end that war.

      PVB: I seriously don’t know how much more of this shit I can take. Doesn’t the country understand what is going on here? Are we really being served up this crap without ANYONE in the media pointing out what dangerous propaganda it is, and how selective and faulty the soundbytes are? Even the freaking “progressives” are sending out petitions asking us to castigate Trump for his “support for Russia/Putin”. This is nuts. And it’s making me nuts. (Sorry. I am starting to freak out a little here. I’m feeling like something must be wrong with me since everyone else seems to be buying all this nonsense like it were normal.)

      08/16/16 6:58 AM | Comment Link

    • rich bauer said...


      08/16/16 9:30 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Killary won’t have trouble finding males and now females who want to kill in the name of exceptionalism. It pays and for many it’s the only work they are cut out for.

      08/16/16 12:28 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...


      didn’t gwb look into putins eyes and like what he saw?
      didn’t the clinton administration try to deal with the taliban by attempting a combined military operation in afgh. this never got past the planning stage. the clintons have dealt with putin with no qualms.
      so why now is he a thug?
      jim hruska

      08/16/16 4:19 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      If the Clintons get back in the White House they will be a 21st century House of Borgia- real nasty stuff going on in and coming out of DC. The motto of the Borgia “Either a Caesar or nothing.”

      08/16/16 5:05 PM | Comment Link

    • rich bauer said...


      08/16/16 6:45 PM | Comment Link

    • rich bauer said...


      08/16/16 6:46 PM | Comment Link

    • rich bauer said...


      THUG: From Hindi ठग्गी, ठगी, ठग ‎(ṭhaggī, ṭhagī, ṭhag), from Marathi ठक ‎(ṭhak, “thief, swindler”), from Sanskrit स्थग ‎(sthaga, “cunning, fraudulent, to cover, to conceal”) hence स्थगति ‎(sthagati, “he/she/it covers, he/she/it conceals”)


      08/16/16 6:57 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      teri said:
      “This is nuts. And it’s making me nuts. (Sorry. I am starting to freak out a little here. I’m feeling like something must be wrong with me since everyone else seems to be buying all this nonsense like it were normal.)”unquote

      teri teri teri.. Been there done that.

      Yeah.. we know the fucking political world around us has gone insane. But figure it this way. My dad always said, after one of my responses to the days of Bush insanity during 2003,.. “well.. as long as they don’t come in my back yard. I mean..what the fuck am I supposed to do about it?”

      Take some advice. relax. Go to a local pub..listen to some great music, order your favorite beverage, ..drink, listen, and think .. goddamnit, at least I’m not experiencing what those poor, sonsofbitches in Syria are.

      Then.. thank your lucky stars.

      08/16/16 7:03 PM | Comment Link

    • nacquiesce said...


      We’ve always been at war with Eastasia. . . .no, wait. . . We’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

      08/17/16 10:58 AM | Comment Link

    • rich bauer said...


      Just when I am writing off Donald Trump as a raving lunatic he goes and says stuff like this:

      Do I trust our intelligence? Not so much from the people that have been doing it for our country. I mean, look what’s happened over the last 10 years. Look what’s happened over the years. It’s been catastrophic. And, in fact, I won’t use some of the people that are sort of your standards, you know, just use them, use them, use them, very easy to use them, but I won’t use them because they’ve made such bad decisions,” said Trump, who will also be joined by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the inaugural briefing. “You look at Iraq. You look at the Middle East. It’s a total powder keg. It’s a — if we would have never touched it, it would have been a lot better.

      Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/trump-us-intelligence-briefing-227109#ixzz4HgPpb8kv
      Follow us: @politico on Twitter | Politico on Facebook

      08/18/16 7:41 AM | Comment Link

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