Written by Winter Trabex.

The phrase “saber rattling” has its origins in a 1924 session of congress in Chile wherein fifty-six military officers, dissatisfied with the government’s way of doing things, audibly rattled their sheathed dress-uniform sabers. This action was meant to impress upon the congress that things had to change, and soon.

The phrase has since come to mean any threat of military aggression, most often undertaken from one state to another.

These days, the people in power of the American government- most often old men who have made a career of bossing people around- have only one recourse when they become frustrated, angry, or dissatisfied with anybody or anything. They rattle the saber. In their case, this is not a literal saber worn at the hip, but a figurative saber whose noise can be heard any time the threat of physical force is mentioned.


Such was the case earlier this month when the House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning what they call “Russian aggression.” In the resolution, it appears the House failed to mention that America, once the hero coming in to the save the day, has now become the meddlesome villain always passing judgment on others.

The irony of condemning the use of force against Georgia, Moldova, and the Ukraine was likely not lost on a Russian nation that has seen American forces engage in wars of aggression against Muslim peoples, at least one of which was based on a lie (Iraq) and another of which appears to have no end in sight, no victory possible (ISIS).

The pot has called the kettle black.

This resolution- one rattle of a saber- is just one move in a series of bitter back-and-forth jabs between the Russian and American governments and media outlets. The state-funded network Russia Today goes out of its way to embarrass the American government; they often do this by telling the truth. The publicly owned network CNN (ultimately answerable to Time Warner) takes every chance it can get to embarrass the Russian government. They do this by putting a spin on events, twisting the truth, or sometimes outright lying.

One example is a CNN story published in October in which was an admission that the placement of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border was interpreted as the first step to an invasion of the Ukraine. A photo montage on the page is entitled “Crisis in Ukraine.” However, the crisis CNN has discovered appears little more than everyday life with the added presence of soldiers. This at least is evident in the fourth image, a photograph of people emptying an election box.

In other words, what conflict there is between the two nations is fabricated from nothing, then blown out of proportion, then taken seriously by a lot of men in business suits who have nothing better to do with their time but to consider how to make enemies with people whom they don’t really know.

Even supposing that the aggression from Russia to parts of Eastern Europe is as bad or worse than American officials and media members say it is, such a conflict is only the business of Russia and any country whom it attacks. America’s duty is not- and should not be- to police the world. If the year 2014 is any example, America as a country really struggles with law enforcement.

To put it another way: if people in the Ukraine, in Georgia, and in Moldova want to be free from Russian harassment, it is incumbent upon them to figure out how to avoid such situations. No amount of interference from America will solve their problems; there is every indication that American interference will only make matters worse.


This includes sanctions against Russia, one of the government’s strange new ideas of voicing its disapproval. Though the aim is to curtail the actions of any foreign power, sanctions often hurt those who had nothing to do with any government decision. This is particularly true of economic sanctions. It is the same as a farmer in Texas being unable to make a living because a man in Washington, D.C. made a bad choice, which caused a leader in Moscow to call for a sanction. The farmer in Texas has nothing to do with the man in Moscow, nor even the man in Washington. He is simply caught up in the madness of politics.

All of this simply amounts to a group of old men sitting around in a room rattling their sabers loudly at each other, each one trying to look more menacing than everyone else. While the room fills up with the noise of inferred threats, everyone understands that no one will draw. Neither Russia nor America will go to war, one with the other- not on the basis of a mature adult with the capability to destroy the world with nuclear weapons several times over acting like a child. Temper tantrums are usually not the basis for military action.

For the present, the insults will continue. The media stories will continue. Russia will complain about America. America will complain about Russia. The obvious choice- that of cooperation- will elude everyone in Moscow and in Washington. In this situation, the existence of the state is simply an amplifier of human ego. The ego drowns out all until nothing is left but the sound of old men grabbing onto the hilts of their swords, rattling their weapons back and forth.


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