Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Power of “Nyet”

[O poder do “não”]
[Het vermogen van “njet”]
[Síla „Nět“]
[Le pouvoir du « Niet »]

The way things are supposed to work on this planet is like this: in the United States, the power structures (public and private) decide what they want the rest of the world to do. They communicate their wishes through official and unofficial channels, expecting automatic cooperation. If cooperation is not immediately forthcoming, they apply political, financial and economic pressure. If that still doesn’t produce the intended effect, they attempt regime change through a color revolution or a military coup, or organize and finance an insurgency leading to terrorist attacks and civil war in the recalcitrant nation. If that still doesn’t work, they bomb the country back to the stone age. This is the way it worked in the 1990s and the 2000s, but as of late a new dynamic has emerged.

In the beginning it was centered on Russia, but the phenomenon has since spread around the world and is about to engulf the United States itself. It works like this: the United States decides what it wants Russia to do and communicates its wishes, expecting automatic cooperation. Russia says “Nyet.” The United States then runs through all of the above steps up to but not including the bombing campaign, from which it is deterred by Russia’s nuclear deterrent. The answer remains “Nyet.” One could perhaps imagine that some smart person within the US power structure would pipe up and say: “Based on the evidence before us, dictating our terms to Russia doesn’t work; let’s try negotiating with Russia in good faith as equals.” And then everybody else would slap their heads and say, "Wow! That's brilliant! Why didn't we think of that?" But instead that person would be fired that very same day because, you see, American global hegemony is nonnegotiable. And so what happens instead is that the Americans act baffled, regroup and try again, making for quite an amusing spectacle.

The whole Edward Snowden imbroglio was particularly fun to watch. The US demanded his extradition. The Russians said: “Nyet, our constitution forbids it.” And then, hilariously, some voices in the West demanded in response that Russia change its constitution! The response, requiring no translation, was “Xa-xa-xa-xa-xa!” Less funny is the impasse over Syria: the Americans have been continuously demanding that Russia go along with their plan to overthrow Bashar Assad. The unchanging Russian response has been: “Nyet, the Syrians get to decide on their leadership, not Russia, and not the US.” Each time they hear it, the Americans scratch their heads and… try again. John Kerry was just recently in Moscow, holding a marathon “negotiating session” with Putin and Lavrov. Above is a photo of Kerry talking to Putin and Lavrov in Moscow a week or so ago and their facial expressions are hard to misread. There’s Kerry, with his back to the camera, babbling away as per usual. Lavrov’s face says: “I can’t believe I have to sit here and listen to this nonsense again.” Putin’s face says: “Oh the poor idiot, he can’t bring himself to understand that we’re just going to say ‘nyet’ again.” Kerry flew home with yet another “nyet.”

What’s worse, other countries are now getting into the act. The Americans told the Brits exactly how to vote, and yet the Brits said “nyet” and voted for Brexit. The Americans told the Europeans to accept the horrendous corporate power grab that is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the French said “nyet, it shall not pass.” The US organized yet another military coup in Turkey to replace Erdoǧan with somebody who won’t try to play nice with Russia, and the Turks said “nyet” to that too. And now, horror of horrors, there is Donald Trump saying “nyet” to all sorts of things—NATO, offshoring American jobs, letting in a flood of migrants, globalization, weapons for Ukrainian Nazis, free trade…

The corrosive psychological effect of “nyet” on the American hegemonic psyche cannot be underestimated. If you are supposed to think and act like a hegemon, but only the thinking part still works, then the result is cognitive dissonance. If your job is to bully nations around, and the nations can no longer be bullied, then your job becomes a joke, and you turn into a mental patient. The resulting madness has recently produced quite an interesting symptom: some number of US State Department staffers signed a letter, which was promptly leaked, calling for a bombing campaign against Syria in order to overthrow Bashar Assad. These are diplomats. Diplomacy is the art of avoiding war by talking. Diplomats who call for war are not being exactly… diplomatic. You could say that they are incompetent diplomats, but that wouldn’t go far enough (most of the competent diplomats left the service during the second Bush administration, many of them in disgust over having to lie about the rationale for the Iraq war). The truth is, they are sick, deranged non-diplomatic warmongers. Such is the power of this one simple Russian word that they have quite literally lost their minds.

But it would be unfair to single out the State Department. It is as if the entire American body politic has been infected by a putrid miasma. It permeates all things and makes life miserable. In spite of the mounting problems, most other things in the US are still somewhat manageable, but this one thing—the draining away of the ability to bully the whole world—ruins everything. It’s mid-summer, the nation is at the beach. The beach blanket is moth-eaten and threadbare, the beach umbrella has holes in it, the soft drinks in the cooler are laced with nasty chemicals and the summer reading is boring… and then there is a dead whale decomposing nearby, whose name is “Nyet.” It just ruins the whole ambiance!

The media chattering heads and the establishment politicos are at this point painfully aware of this problem, and their predictable reaction is to blame it on what they perceive as its ultimate source: Russia, conveniently personified by Putin. “If you aren’t voting for Clinton, you are voting for Putin” is one recently minted political trope. Another is that Trump is Putin’s agent. Any public figure that declines to take a pro-establishment stance is automatically labeled “Putin’s useful idiot.” Taken at face value, such claims are preposterous. But there is a deeper explanation for them: what ties them all together is the power of “nyet.” A vote for Sanders is a “nyet” vote: the Democratic establishment produced a candidate and told people to vote for her, and most of the young people said “nyet.” Same thing with Trump: the Republican establishment trotted out its Seven Dwarfs and told people to vote for any one of them, and yet most of the disenfranchised working-class white people said “nyet” and voted for Snow White the outsider.

It is a hopeful sign that people throughout the Washington-dominated world are discovering the power of “nyet.” The establishment may still look spiffy on the outside, but under the shiny new paint there hides a rotten hull, with water coming in though every open seam. A sufficiently resounding “nyet” will probably be enough to cause it to founder, suddenly making room for some very necessary changes. When that happens, please remember to thank Russia… or, if you insist, Putin.

33 comments :

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Hilarious stuff! Especially that picture. Expand it, folks, to savour the full glee afforded by Lavrov's and Putin's expressions. They can barely manage to maintain their basic diplomatic courtesy towards the poor Haircutinsearchofabrain.

Amazed! said...

And don't forget the rejection of GM food by Russia!

Jan Schmidt said...

nice article as always, especially the power of "No!" ... there is one bit of language use people everywhere do wrong:
sorry US-citizens, but you are not the only americans. i know who coined the term american and americans for use with US-propaganda. what about people in chile, ecuador, honduras, canada etc.
are they not american too? language usage was indoctrinated so deep that even the russians say "amerikanski" ... same with this so called us-exceptionalism. the USA profited and profits from braindrain out of other nations. there are very exceptional people everywhere.

NowhereMan said...

Beautiful! I'm going to start using that word in conversation now just to gauge people's reactions. Nyet!!! I have one particularly stuffy friend who's just baffled by the Trump phenomenon. He's an old school GOP conservative at heart who's chagrined that he's had to abandon the grand old party in favor of HRC and can't understand for the life of him why the "dirt people" are so enamored with Trump and Sanders. I just laugh and tell him that they're abandoning the Dems for the same reasons that he's embracing them.

The rich and the near rich (which seems to include just about everybody these days, if only in their imaginations) here in the US all suffer from fundamental attribution bias - the idea that their own exceptionalism is why they are doing well - rather than realizing that it's all mostly just the luck of the draw - or even worse - their own willingness to carry corporate water like the good little Nazi's they are that has allowed them to temporarily advance their station in life.

Fortunately for us all, the sun is setting on America's empire as we speak, and fevered dreams of US hegemony for the rest of time will be short lived indeed, although homo sapiens' time might be limited as well. If history keeps recording in the aftermath, US nuclear enabled hegemony will be but a brief blip on the historical radar, and like the legend of Atlantis before us, we'll be remembered chiefly as a society gone mad with our technologies, who aspired to reach out and touch the face of god, but instead settled for embracing our many inner devils. We won't be missed.

Happy Unicorn said...

A vote for Trump is a vote for Putin? Wouldn't THAT be nice!

Dave Stockton said...

This whole, "a vote against Hillary is a vote for Putin", is the best thing that could have happened this election. The US population will now have a debate and get to vote on whether we truly want to start World War Three. Hopefully the powers that be will be surprised by the response... NYET!

Unknown said...

Nice...

Putin recently made fun of Lavrov, that he is becoming like Gromyko....
...and Gromyko was called Mr. NYET. :-)

http://sevendaynews.com/2016/06/17/putin-has-lavrov-compared-with-gromyko/

Vyse Legendaire said...

I hope someone would volunteer to design a 'Nyet!' T-shirt on teepublic for advocates to show their unity to the cause.

Patrick DeBoard said...

Maestro!

Shawn Sincoski said...

I really hope that the next time the TBTF banks need a handout, somebody, somewhere reacts with a 'NFW' that resonates with the other plebes. Such a powerful word. But I am doubtful that such an event will occur. With all that is going on with Hillary the house should be on fire by now, but it is not (I am not advocating Trump by disparaging
HRC). I suspect that the coming American experience will be unique and (dis)proportionate to their apathy.

Cortes said...

Herbert Marcuse: The first word of freedom is "No"

Irene Parousis said...

BRILLIANT!!!

d94c074a-53e8-11e6-947a-073bf9f943f9 said...

Excellent.
There is a minor twist: "The corrosive psychological effect of “nyet” on the American hegemonic psyche cannot be underestimated". Probably GWB's "misunderestimated" left some local linguistic traume in your brain popping up in your otherwise perfect comment. I guess you meant "cannot be overestimated". Nevermind, you message is clear and convincing anyway :-)

Mister Roboto said...

This sums up why all the usual poppycock and folderol about why I need to vote for Hillary that always succeeded in getting under my intellectual skin in the past is now just the mere noise of screeching cats outside the window to me: There just comes a point where, if you have any integrity at all, you have to say, "Nyet!"

Rude Ralph said...

Inventive, yet true. Nice work!.

Dario Alok said...

juicy text! Thanks!

here, translated to portuguese:

http://blogdoalok.blogspot.com.br/2016/07/o-poder-do-nao-por-dmitri-orlov.html

Cortes said...

D94etc:

I suspect that underestimation is not exactly the same as overstatement ....

Mark said...

At some point, voting for a major party candidate is just throwing away your vote.

Roger said...

I always enjoy Dmitry's blogs and the fact that he pushes the Russian perspective, as a relief from the Russophobic drivel put out by the mainstream. However, a word of caution to the wise. Obama, Kerry, Clinton, Trump et al. are, in fact, extremely unfunny. Charlie Chaplin lampooned the funny little man with the moustache in the Great Dictator, xa! xa! xa! The truth came out later. Do not be afraid of Neocon America, but please remember these are dangerous people. Be vigilant always.

Bruno said...

Loved.

And sad because Brasil didn't say NYET to the coup planted here by USA.

Unknown said...

"Putin recently made fun of Lavrov, that he is becoming like Gromyko....
...and Gromyko was called Mr. NYET. :-)"

Even better, Lavrov was subsequently quoted in the press as saying "don't make me say the four letter word".

What a tag team!

Bevin Chu said...

The expressions on the faces of Lavrov and Putin said it all:
"How much longer do I have to listen to this idiot yammer on?"

In any even the two men have taken Nancy Reagan's advice to heart:
"Just say nyet!"

Marty said...

I really believe that you have hit the crux of the issue, the Neocon psychopaths are besides themselves over the Nyets, and they find themselves to be a once powerful now toothless lion, the are being laughed at, even by the American people.
I hope so because the worst of the bunch is Mrs. Clinton, she is just a cray and stupid enough to burn it all down, perhaps the only thing that would prevent her from doing so is that this would interfere with her Diabolical Narcissistic need to be seen as the kleptocrat she is and to get away with being the biggest grifter in American history.

Turkey shows that they can't even organize a proper coup any more, even when they have a major base in the country of the government to be compromised. The NeoCons must be so disappointed.

This failed coup was probably also was a big disappointment to those Fed Banksters who were counting on looting the Bank if Turkey's 500 or so Tonnes of gold, as they did with Ukraine.


Dmitry Orlov said...

I am tired of deleting comments from people claiming that the Russian constitution did not forbid Snowden's extradition. Chapter 46: Guaranteed protection of rights and liberties. The end.

Roger said...

Leon Panetta sez "we know how to do this" despite an exuberant flourishing of evidence to the contrary. But there's a glimmer of hope, even if it comes from a way down the ranks, because there's a Col Bacevitch who begs to differ and sez "with all due respect, we DON'T know how to do this."

You ask, know how to do WHAT exactly? Well, the topic at issue in a PBS panel discussion was destroying the Islamic State. But knowing how to do it or NOT knowing how to do it could refer equally to a series of monumental American foreign policy muffs. How could it be, that America with all its military force, screws up so mightily and predictably? Because it's as Mr Orlov asserts, there's a lot of NYETS out there and the American foreign policy establishment can't fathom it.

But what they most crucially can't fathom is that those damn furriners have their own interests at heart just like the Americans have their own interests. Americans from the street level to the highest echelons view the world through Americentric lens resulting in ludicrously distorted fun-house views of the world.

For example, why doesn't the Iranian see things the way Americans want him to? Why is it always "nyet" coming out of Teheran? Why are Iranians so belligerent? Americans seemingly can't comprehend that Iran is an ancient imperial power whose roots go back millennia, right to the origins of civilization. But could it possibly be that Iranian concerns have got more to do with goings-on in their geographic locale and pretty much nothing to do with the United States? And that the Iranian is highly irritated that Americans stick their noses into matters that concern Americans only tangentially or not at all? Could it be that the Iranian has his own life pathways in age-old places that Americans know nothing about? Could it be that an Iranian is educated in his own traditions in ancient academies that far pre-date anything on American soil? You can replace the words "Iranian" and "Iran" with "Chinese" and "China" or "Japanese" and "Japan" or dozens of other places and societies including "Russian" and "Russia". American incomprehension goes deep.

Maybe some of the world is Washington-dominated. But maybe some this domination is more apparent than real. Maybe it only seems Washington-dominated because in many of these places there's a concordance of interests with the United States. But in most of the globe the interests of Americans are not the same as those of the locals. And America has not got the will nor the reach to make it otherwise.

Happy Unicorn said...

Roger: "But in most of the globe the interests of Americans are not the same as those of the locals."

Most of the globe, including America itself! The interests of the Americans you're talking about are usually not the same as mine or anyone's that I know ("the locals" in America). I suspect the people of the USA who aren't brainwashed would have a lot in common with everybody else in the world, because the first colony of any would-be empire (colony 0, let's say) is always the country it originated from. More and more of us are saying nyet too, though the utterance usually takes the less exotic form also enumerated by Dmitry awhile back: "No, because we hate you."

flops said...

In good wronglish:
There's America, Americans, USA.
And, in some point of our decolonized memory, there's Pacha Mama, our Mother Earth, the name given to our land by the older people.
Not by chance, the unique country in Pacha Mama continents that have a pre-colonial language as its official - Paraguay's Guarani - was the initial focus of this antidemocratic wave attacking our countries.
We, the united states of...? What?
"Pacha Mama" is our best nyet!
Not anymore south and central americas, south and central "americans". Pacha Mama is our real continents' name! We are The United States of Pacha Mama!
When mentioning people from brazil, angentine, chile, bolivia, peru paraguay colombiavenezuelahaiti,surinamepanamacubamexico and so, please call us Pachamamists. That' what we are.

Roger said...

HappyUnicorn, of course you're right.

What we ordinary folk think of as "American" interests are those interests as expressed by an entrenched foreign policy establishment to which the price of admission isn't only graduate studies in an expensive university. No, you have to walk within the lines. There's nothing as old under the sun as "group-think".

The lines are long established. Just think of it: globalization, off-shoring millions of jobs, on-shoring millions of dirt-poor immigrants, legal and otherwise. Nothing warms the cockles of the oligarch's heart like a desperate underclass.

I know Trump is a buffoon. But he served a purpose when he diverged from long established consensus and said that maybe, just maybe, getting on with the Russians might not be that hard. Or that NATO is an out-dated, dead-weight non-alliance of the unwilling. Or that border-less trade ruined heartland America.

You saw the venomous reaction. A lot of people staked a career on the status-quo. Is the best-before expired as Trump suggested? I'll bet that if it hadn't been a blustering clown that raised it, many more people on the street would agree.

Some regional interests are historic and easily visible for example, along the Mason-Dixon line. But even on either side of that old divide I think that the disparity is more an artifact of opposing elites determined to not get along. Why don't they get along? Well, there's a country to loot. You need distractions and diversions while pension funds and treasuries are emptied.

And so we're off chasing our tails on burning problems like gender neutral washrooms. Brilliant, don't you think? Kudos to the Obama regime for that one. And so it's God fearin', gun packin' "conservative" versus enlightened, high-minded "progressive". What a joke, what a con. Yet, predictably, we fell for it. You name it, school prayer, abortion, evolution, and now washrooms, we fall for it, we always do.

Robert T. said...

It would be very nice if someone could write a piece on what life in Russia, in all its levels, is really like nowadays. I suspect that it is not just "nyet" that terrifies the Empire, but rather what Russia herself is now increasingly coming to represent.

A lot of people, myself included, had been brought up thinking that Russia, while indeed a superpower, isn't and cannot be on the same page as the US. But now here are reports saying that a good and strong leader has pulled Russia out of the rut, and made things better. What's more, this leader did it in a manner that seems antithetical to the Empire. And what's even better is that this new Russia can't be easily rocked, like how the other countries had been rocked and thrown into chaos. The Empire therefore is at its wit's end. If people from other parts of the Earth, especially in those many places where democracy has failed miserably, begin to see that there is indeed an alternative to the empirical system, won't they then start to follow Russia's footsteps?

Gwunderi said...

Simply brilliant! Think "The power of 'Nyet'" will become my favorite slogan : )

Headsails said...

Just like a spoiled rotten child that needs to learn some manners. It needs to learn the meaning of no. But in this case, instead of a spankng they would be chain ganged for life.

seeker said...

Yes America is coming apart at the seems, As an example of the Brain Washing job just look at the Circus of the Two Candidate's running for President.

Out of 350 Million People a thinking person would assume they could find someone with some Integrity, Wisdom, Love and Compassion. But sadly true Democracy is dead in America and the World looks on in amazement and we just shake our heads......... May by soon when the Print as you Go $ corruption System finally fails the White Hats there will finally get the Balls put some ring leaders of the Gov. Scams in Jail and start a new fair and honest system and also let the many .... Free Energy Devices finally come on line. Thank Heaven that a New Age is coming, no matter what

Banastal said...

I have been self involved for a while and didn't get to come over here. But happy I got here. Dmitry, love it. Nobody can write it better than you!