Consider the following hypothetical but historically based thought experiment:
On April 19th, 1993 there are reports of a military-style ATF assault and gas attack in Waco Texas, resulting in the deaths of 76 civilians. The global community is horrified by the grizzly images of dead children and the chilling reports of observers.
On April 20th, 1993 Boris Yeltsin, once accused of being Bill Clinton’s lackey, unexpectedly and unilaterally charges President Clinton with the crime.
On April 21st, 1993 Boris Yeltsin unilaterally convicts President Clinton of the crime.
Insisting that Mr. Yeltsin is guilty of a rush to judgement, President Clinton demands an impartial investigation – conducted according to accepted, scientific and just norms – that will investigate means, motive, opportunity, forensics, etc and get the bottom of what happened.
Mr. Yeltsin replies that everyone should trust him, that President Clinton is a known pervert and serial abuser of women, a known liar, is guilty of war crimes against the innocent people of Iraq, and, moreover, that he has super secret intelligence which proves beyond all doubt that President Clinton is guilty.
When reminded that his intelligence services have a less than a stellar record of accuracy and truth-telling – and that he himself had publicly questioned their assessments and conclusions on multiple previous occasions – Mr. Yeltsin says that things are different this time, that he now has access to super-duper secret intelligence, and that he’d love to share the intelligence but he just can’t do it for national security reasons.
When confronted by seemingly legitimate questions about Mr. Clinton’s motive for ordering the attack, Mr Yeltsin simply says Mr. Clinton is a madman and that the world can’t tolerate the deliberate gassing children. At that point Mr. Yeltsin, with tears forming in his eyes, holds up a picture of a dead child.
On April 22nd, 1993 Mr. Yeltsin, moved emotionally by the recurring images of dead children in his mind, unilaterally pronounces sentence on Mr. Clinton and orders two Russian warships, the Admiral Ushakov and the Admiral Nakhimov, to launch a cruise missile attack against the ATF headquarters.
The world praises Mr. Yeltsin for bold, decisive, swift and proportionate action, with Pravda chief correspondent Brianzofsky Williamszsosky waxing poetic about the intoxicating beauty of cruise missile launches. The world is especially impressed that Mr. Yeltsin made Mr. Jiang Zemin wait for an hour while he ordered the cruise missile strike, proving how tough and serious he is about using military power. The world also gushes at Mr. Yeltsin’s compassion in giving innocent people two hours prior notice about the attack, and many are impressed by his ability to play multi-dimensional chess and use the attack to silence his political critics at home.
Reminding the world that America is in a constant state of war, is the world’s largest and most notorious weapons supplier, is the only country ever to use nuclear weapons against innocent civilians in anger, has a history of criminality against defenseless minorities, has the largest prison population in the world, has a history of interfering in other country’s elections, and is mercilessly starving the children of Iraq, Mr. Yeltsin tells the world that he reserves the unilateral right to launch future attacks and ultimately remove President Clinton from power.
The world – once concerned about Mr. Yeltsin’s obsequiousness to President Clinton, penchant for women and wine, and mental instability – applauds his presidential actions, new-found gravitas, brinkmanship, and robust willingness to use military power. A previous chorus of elite and media condemnation has magically turned into a chorus of praise. A minority of Mr. Yeltsin’s once core supporters – irrationally attached as they are to objective standards of logic and morality and reminded of St. Thomas Moore’s admonition about defending the law – have the temerity to question Mr. Yeltsin’s decision – to which they receive the thunderous reply: I TRUST MY PRESIDENT!
Americans, on the other hand, are left scratching their heads, wondering why there was such a seeming rush to judgement and what gives Mr Yeltsin the right to act as judge, jury and executioner and to unilaterally decide the future of America, all in roughly three days and without any due process, transparency or accountability. American’s are also left wondering why one nuclear power would risk going to war with another nuclear power and why Mr. Yelstin, going against his campaign promises, is so interested in putting America’s house in order when his own house is such a frigging mess.
Somebody’s right and somebody’s wrong.