IF SOMETHING bad happens in Russia, Russian officials have an instant explanation: It's the United States' fault.
They must have standing instructions in the event of an unfortunate event: "Blame America first, and we'll get around to the real explanation later."
The blame begins at the top: At the 2009 economic forum in Davos, Russian leader Vladimir Putin blamed the U.S. for the global economic slowdown.
The demonstrations following Putin's election to the presidency in 2011: The work of U.S. agents acting under the orders of Hillary Clinton.
In 2012, Russian space officials blamed a series of launch and satellite failures on "foreign sabotage," making it clear that the foreigner was the United States.
In 2010, a scientist in a think tank with close ties to the Kremlin blamed Russia's drought and devastating wildfires on "American weather weapons."
The Russian navy's initial explanation for the loss of the submarine Kursk and its crew of 118 in 2000 was due to either a torpedo from an American sub or a collision with an American sub. Subsequent investigations showed, as they so often did in post-Soviet Russia, that the sinking was due to carelessness, poor maintenance and obsolescent torpedoes.
On Friday, a meteor the size of a city bus flashed across the Ural Mountains and exploded in spectacular fashion miles up in the atmosphere not far from the city of Chelyabinsk, injuring, at first reports, about 1,000 people and shattering glass over a wide region.
And whose fault was the great flash in the sky and the accompanying tremors from the explosion? The U.S., of course.
"Those aren't meteors falling; it's the Americans testing new weapons," explained Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and one of Russia's flakier lawmakers.
Maybe we should take it as a compliment that the Russians have far greater faith than we do in our technical prowess and ability to influence events not only on the other side of the world but in outer space, too.