An early insider account of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, entitled Shattered, reveals a paranoid presidential candidate who couldn’t articulate why she wanted to be President and who oversaw an overconfident and dysfunctional operation that failed to project a positive message or appeal to key voting groups.
Okay, I realize that people who have been watching Rachel Maddow and other MSNBC programs – as well as reading The New York Times and The Washington Post for the past four months – “know” that Clinton ran a brilliant campaign that was only derailed because of “Russian meddling.” But this insider account from reporters Jonathan Allen and Annie Parnes describes something else.
As The Wall Street Journal review notes, the book “narrates the petty bickering, foolish reasoning and sheer arrogance of a campaign that was never the sure thing that its leader and top staffers assumed. … Mr. Allen and Ms. Parnes stress two essential failures of the campaign, the first structural, the second political. The campaign’s structure, the authors write, was an ‘unholy mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority, petty jealousies, and no sense of greater purpose.’”
The book portrays Hillary Clinton as distant from her campaign staff, accessible primarily through her close aide, Huma Abedin, and thus creating warring factions within her bloated operation.
According to the Journal’s review by Barton Swaim, the book’s authors suggest that this chaos resulted from “the fact that Mrs. Clinton didn’t know why she wanted to be president. At one point no fewer than 10 senior aides were working on her campaign announcement speech, not one had a clear understanding of why Americans should cast their vote for Mrs. Clinton and not someone else. The speech, when she finally delivered it, was a flop – aimless, boring, devoid of much beyond bromides.”
The book cites a second reason for Clinton’s dismal performance – her team’s reliance on analytics rather than on reaching out to real voters and their concerns.
There is also an interesting tidbit regarding Clinton’s attitude toward the privacy of her staff’s emails. “After losing to Mr. Obama in the protracted 2008 primary,” the Journal’s review says, Clinton “was convinced that she had lost because some staffers – she wasn’t sure who – had been disloyal. So she ‘instructed a trusted aide to access the campaign’s server and download the [email] messages sent and received by top staffers.’”
In other words, Clinton – in some Nixonian fit of paranoia – violated the privacy of her senior advisers in her own mole hunt, a revelation that reflects on her own self-described “mistake” to funnel her emails as Secretary of State through a private server rather than a government one. As the Journal’s review puts it: “she didn’t want anyone reading her emails the way she was reading those of her 2008 staffers.”
But there is even a greater irony in this revelation because of the current complaint from Clinton and her die-hard supporters that Russia sabotaged her campaign by releasing emails via WikiLeaks from the DNC, which described how party leaders had torpedoed the campaign of Clinton’s rival for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and other emails from her campaign chairman John Podesta, revealing the contents of Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street banks and some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.
WikiLeaks has denied that it received the emails from Russia – and President Obama’s outgoing intelligence chiefs presented no real evidence to support the allegations – but the conspiracy theory of the Trump campaign somehow colluding with the Russians to sink Clinton has become a groupthink among many Democrats as well as the mainstream U.S. media.
So, rather than conducting a serious autopsy on how Clinton and the national Democratic Party kicked away a winnable election against the buffoonish Donald Trump, national Democrats have created a Zombie explanation for their failures, blaming their stunning defeat on the Russians.
This hysteria over Russia-gate has consumed the first several months of the Trump presidency – badgering the Trump administration into a more belligerent posture toward nuclear-armed Russia – but leaving little incentive for the Democrats to assess what they need to do to appeal to working-class voters who chose Trump’s empty-headed populism over Clinton’s cold-hearted calculations.
The current conventional wisdom among the mainstream media, many Democrats and even some progressives is that the only way to explain the victory by pussy-grabbing Trump is to complain about an intervention by the evil Russians. Maybe Maddow and the other Russia-did-it conspiracy theorists will now denounce Shattered as just one more example of “Russian disinformation.”
The Times’ View
The New York Times’ review by Michiko Kakutani also notes how Shattered details Clinton’s dysfunction, but the newspaper inserted a phrase about “Russian meddling,” presumably to avoid a head-exploding cognitive dissonance among its readers who have been inundated over the past four months by the Times’ obsession on Russia! Russia! Russia!
However, the Times’ review still focuses on the book’s larger message: “In fact, the portrait of the Clinton campaign that emerges from these pages is that of a Titanic-like disaster: an epic fail made up of a series of perverse and often avoidable missteps by an out-of-touch candidate and her strife-ridden staff that turned ‘a winnable race’ into ‘another iceberg-seeking campaign ship.’
“It’s the story of a wildly dysfunctional and ‘spirit-crushing’ campaign that embraced a flawed strategy (based on flawed data) and that failed, repeatedly, to correct course. A passive-aggressive campaign that neglected to act on warning flares sent up by Democratic operatives on the ground in crucial swing states, and that ignored the advice of the candidate’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and other Democratic Party elders, who argued that the campaign needed to work harder to persuade undecided and ambivalent voters (like working-class whites and millennials), instead of focusing so insistently on turning out core supporters.”
So, perhaps this new book about how Hillary Clinton really lost Campaign 2016 will enable national Democrats to finally start charting a course correction before the party slams another Titanic-style campaign into another iceberg.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
Donald Trump entered military terra incognita on Thursday by launching an illegal Tomahawk missile strike on an air base in eastern Syria. Beyond the clear violation of international law, the practical results are likely to be disastrous, drawing the U.S. deeper into the Syrian quagmire.
But it would be a mistake to focus all the criticism on Trump. Not only are Democrats also at fault, but a good argument could be made that they bear even greater responsibility.
For years, near-total unanimity has reigned on Capitol Hill concerning America’s latest villains du jour, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Congressmen, senators, think-tank strategists, and op-ed analysts all have agreed that Putin and Assad are the prime enemies of “peace,” by which is meant global American hegemony, and that therefore the U.S. must stop at nothing to weaken or neutralize them or force them to exit the world stage.
Until recently, in fact, just about the only politically significant dissenter was Trump. Accusing reporters of twisting the news at a tumultuous press conference in late February, he told them, “Now tomorrow, you’ll say, ‘Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible.’ It’s not terrible. It’s good.”
But since getting along with Russia was terrible for America’s perpetually bellicose foreign-policy establishment, Official Washington declared war on Trump, building on Hillary Clinton’s charge during the last presidential debate that he was Putin’s “puppet.” It became the conventional wisdom that Trump was a “Siberian candidate” being inserted in the White House by a satanic Kremlin determined to bend freedom-loving Americans to its will.
As Inauguration Day approached, President Obama’s intelligence chiefs pulled out all stops to persuade the public that (a) Russian intelligence had engineered Clinton’s defeat by hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and placing thousands of embarrassing emails in the hands of WikiLeaks and that (b) Trump was somehow complicit in the effort.
The campaign was highly effective. The alleged Putin-Trump relationship was a major feature at the anti-Trump protests surrounding his inauguration and the major U.S. news media pounded on the Russia “scandal” daily.
On Feb. 13, barely four weeks after taking office, Trump crumbled under a mounting barrage of political abuse and gave National Security Adviser Michael Flynn the boot after it was revealed that he had talked with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition, supposedly in violation of the 1799 Logan Act, an absurd piece of ancient legislation that even The New York Times referred to as “a dusty, old law” that should have been repealed generations ago.
Under Media Pressure
A day later, the administration reeled again when the Times charged in a front-page exposé that “members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.”
The article provided no evidence and no names and said nothing about whether such contacts were knowing or unknowing, i.e., whether they involved a John le Carré-style midnight rendezvous or merely an exchange of pleasantries with someone who may or may not have been connected to the FSB, as Russia’s version of the CIA is known.
In a March 6 article entitled “Pause This Presidency,” Times columnist Charles M. Blow called for little less than a coup d’état: “The American people must immediately demand a cessation of all consequential actions by this ‘president’ until we can be assured that Russian efforts to hack our election … did not also include collusion with or cover-up by anyone involved in the Trump campaign and now administration.”
How “the American people” would demand such a cessation or who would provide such assurances was not specified.
On March 31, CNN quoted an unnamed senior administration official saying that Trump’s hopes of a rapprochement with Russia were fading because he “believes in the current atmosphere – with so much media scrutiny and ongoing probes into Trump-Russia ties and election meddling – that it won’t be possible to ‘make a deal.’”
Thus, Trump found himself increasingly boxed in by hostile forces. But he still tried to fulfill his promise to concentrate on defeating terrorists in Syria and Iraq. On March 30, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the U.S. administration “priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out,” but to concentrate on defeating Al Qaeda and ISIS instead.
But the more Trump contemplated his predicament in the following days, the more he realized how untenable it had come. Tuesday’s poison-gas incident in Idlib thus offered a way out regardless of who was actually responsible. The only way for Trump to make peace with the “deep state” in Washington was by waging war on Syria.
Finally, on Thursday, hours before Trump sent a volley of cruise missiles wafting towards Syria, Hillary Clinton taunted him by declaring that America “should take out his [Assad’s] airfields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people.” The effect was to all but force Trump to show that he was every bit as macho as the former First Lady.
Trump is certainly a fool for going ahead with such an attack in clear contravention of international law and entangling the United States more deeply into the complicated Syrian conflict. But the blame also should go to the people who frog-marched him to the precipice and then all but commanded him to step over the edge.
Within hours, all the usual suspects were congratulating one of the most scorned U.S. presidents in history for taking the leap.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described Trump’s missile barrage as “a proportional response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons.”
Republican super-hawks Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, previously as anti-administration as any Democrat, issued a joint statement declaring that Trump “deserves the support of the American people,” while liberal heart-throb Sen. Elizabeth Warren also agreed that “the Syrian regime must be held accountable for this horrific act.”
The Guardian, as fiercely anti-Trump as it is anti-Putin and anti-Assad, conceded that “Donald Trump has made his point” and that the next step would be up to Russia. All in all, Trump had never gotten such good press. It’s clear that Official Washington was pleased with Trump’s handiwork and was eager to encourage him to do more.
But the missile barrage was not just an assault on Syria but on reason and good sense, too. Although the Washington Post’s Adam Taylor tried to make it seem that the only critics of the missile barrage are members of the alt-right “known for espousing racist, anti-Semitic and sexist points of view,” the fact is that criticism flowed in from other quarters.
At Alternet, Vijay Prashad pointed out that there were few independent observers in Khan Shaykhun, the farming town where the April 4 incident occurred, to provide an accurate account. Eyewitnesses “with the densest relationship to the armed opposition,” he wrote, “are the first to claim that this attack was done by the government.”
Consortiumnews’ Robert Parry pointed out that rather than dropping the gas themselves, Syrian or Russian warplanes could well have triggered an outbreak by bombing a facility containing “chemicals that the rebels were planning to use in some future attack.” Parry also noted that Al Qaeda, which controls Idlib province, could have “staged the incident to elicit precisely the international outrage directed at Assad as has occurred.”
[Previously, United Nations investigators have received eyewitness testimony from Syrians about rebels staging an alleged chlorine-bomb attack so it would be pinned on the Assad regime.]
Something similar may well have occurred in August 2013, a sarin-gas missile attack on the outskirts of Damascus that killed hundreds and that appears to have been launched from a rebel-controlled area two kilometers away. The two incidents are curiously parallel.
The August 2013 incident, which horrified the world and brought the Obama administration to the brink of its own attack on the Syrian government, occurred just days after a U.N. team had arrived in Damascus to investigate an alleged chemical attack by rebels against Syrian government troops some four months earlier.
It made little sense for the Assad regime to have invited U.N. investigators in and then launch a more horrific chemical-weapons attack just miles from the investigators’ hotel. It would be a bit like someone inviting a police inspector to dinner and then committing a murder in full view.
Not Making Sense
As one independent analysis noted in 2013, the Assad regime would have to have decided to carry out a large-scale attack “despite (a) making steady gains against rebel positions, (b) receiving a direct threat from the US that the use of chemical weapons would trigger intervention, (c) having constantly assured their Russian allies that they will not use such weapons, (d) prior to the attack, only using non-lethal chemicals and only against military targets.”
The Assad government would also have had to decide “to (a) send forces into rebel-held area, where they are exposed to sniper fire from multiple directions, (b) use locally manufactured short-range rockets, instead of any of the long-range high quality chemical weapons in their arsenal, and (c) use low quality sarin.”
All of which seems supremely unlikely, but much of the mainstream U.S. media still treats the 2013 sarin-gas attack as the undeniable case of Assad crossing Obama’s “red line” against using chemical weapons. And the highly dubious 2013 incident is cited as a key reason to believe that Assad has done it again. [Recently, The New York Times has quietly backed off the 2013 claims although not explicitly retracting its earlier reporting blaming the attack on the Assad regime.]
Assad would have possibly even stronger reasons not to deploy sarin gas on April 4, 2017. He would have to make a conscious decision to court world opprobrium at a time when the tide of the war was finally turning in his favor with the liberation of Aleppo last December and with most world leaders having concluded that the Assad regime was here to stay.
To have produced and deployed a sarin bomb would have meant deliberately risking military intervention more than three years after Syria reached an agreement with the United Nations to destroy its entire chemical-weapons stockpile so as to avoid … military intervention.
All of which seems supremely unlikely as well. It would be an act of suicide – and after holding off a combined U.S., Saudi, Qatari, and Turkish assault for half a decade or more, one thing that Assad does not appear to be is suicidal.
Although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “there is no doubt in our mind that the Syrian regime under the leadership of Bashar al-Assad is responsible for this horrific attack,” in reality there is plenty of doubt.
Nevertheless, Trump decided to fire away before the facts were in because the enemy he is most worried about is not the one half a world away in Syria, but the Democratic-neocon alliance in his own backyard. The political warfare in Washington is now generating more agony from real wars in the Middle East.
Defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made a rare public appearance on Thursday evening — to come out and push for the US to bomb Syria.
The former secretary of state called for more US international intervention while speaking at the Women of the World Summit in New York, saying that the US should target Syrian airfields.
“That air force is the cause of most of the civilian deaths, as we have seen over the years and as we saw again in the last few days,” Clinton said.
“I really believe that we should have — and still should — take out his airfields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them,” she added, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and aligning herself with the likes of Iraq War architect Bill Kristol and neoconservatives such as Republican Senator John McCain.
The chemical attack has raised many eyebrows, however, as it came just days after the Trump administration stated that Syrians should decide who is running their country.
“It makes no sense, even if you were totally separate from this and take no sides of this and you were just an analyst, it doesn’t make sense for Assad under these conditions to all of the sudden use poison gasses. I think it’s zero chance that he would have done this deliberately,” former Texas congressman Ron Paul said on Wednesday.
Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie has also been outspoken about how the attack would not serve Assad’s interests.
“Let me ask you this: Who benefits? Who benefits, if chemical weapons were used and America weighs in on the side of the rebels, or wades into a war against Assad?” Massie said in an interview on CNN. “How does Assad benefit from that?”
Many of Trump’s most prominent supporters on social media have also been urging the president to ignore calls for intervention.
Realistically, no major change in U.S. foreign and defense policy is possible without substantial support from the U.S. political class, but a problem occurs when only one side of a debate gets a fair hearing and the other side gets ignored or marginalized. That is the current situation regarding U.S. policy toward Russia.
For the past couple of decades, only the neoconservatives and their close allies, the liberal interventionists, have been allowed into the ring to raise their gloves in celebration of an uncontested victory over policy. On the very rare occasion when a “realist” or a critic of “regime change” wars somehow manages to sneak into the ring, they find both arms tied behind them and receive the predictable pounding.
While this predicament has existed since the turn of this past century, it has grown more pronounced since the U.S.-Russia relationship slid into open confrontation in 2014 after the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych and sparking a civil war that led Crimea to secede and join Russia and Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region to rise up in rebellion.
But the only narrative that the vast majority of Americans have heard – and that the opinion centers of Washington and New York have allowed – is the one that blames everything on “Russian aggression.” Those who try to express dissenting opinions – noting, for instance, the intervention in Ukrainian affairs by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland as well as the U.S.-funded undermining on Yanukovych’s government – have been essentially banned from both the U.S. mass media and professional journals.
When a handful of independent news sites (including Consortiumnews.com) tried to report on the other side of the story, they were denounced as “Russian propagandists” and ended up on “blacklists” promoted by The Washington Post and other mainstream news outlets.
An Encouraging Sign
That is why it is encouraging that Foreign Affairs magazine, the preeminent professional journal of American diplomacy, took the extraordinary step (extraordinary at least in the current environment) of publishing Robert English’s article, entitled “Russia, Trump, and a new Détente,” that challenges the prevailing groupthink and does so with careful scholarship.
In effect, English’s article trashes the positions of all Foreign Affairs’ featured contributors for the past several years. But it must be stressed that there are no new discoveries of fact or new insights that make English’s essay particularly valuable. What he has done is to bring together the chief points of the counter-current and set them out with extraordinary writing skills, efficiency and persuasiveness of argumentation. Even more important, he has been uncompromising.
The facts laid out by English could have been set out by one of several experienced and informed professors or practitioners of international relations. But English had the courage to follow the facts where they lead and the skill to convince the Foreign Affairs editors to take the chance on allowing readers to see some unpopular truths even though the editors now will probably come under attack themselves as “Kremlin stooges.”
The overriding thesis is summed up at the start of the essay: “For 25 years, Republicans and Democrats have acted in ways that look much the same to Moscow. Washington has pursued policies that have ignored Russian interests (and sometimes international law as well) in order to encircle Moscow with military alliances and trade blocs conducive to U.S. interests. It is no wonder that Russia pushes back. The wonder is that the U.S. policy elite doesn’t get this, even as foreign-affairs neophyte Trump apparently does.”
English’s article goes back to the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and explains why and how U.S. policy toward Russia was wrong and wrong again. He debunks the notion that Boris Yeltsin brought in a democratic age, which Vladimir Putin undid after coming to power.
English explains how the U.S. meddled in Russian domestic politics in the mid-1990s to falsify election results and ensure Yeltsin’s continuation in office despite his unpopularity for bringing on an economic Depression that average Russians remember bitterly to this day. That was a time when the vast majority of Russians equated democracy with “shitocracy.”
English describes how the Russian economic and political collapse in the 1990s was exploited by the Clinton administration. He tells why currently fashionable U.S. critics of Putin are dead wrong when they fail to acknowledge Putin’s achievements in restructuring the economy, tax collection, governance, improvements in public health and more which account for his spectacular popularity ratings today.
English details all the errors and stupidities of the Obama administration in its handling of Russia and Putin, faulting President Obama and Secretary of State (and later presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton for all of their provocative and insensitive words and deeds. What we see in U.S. policy, as described by English, is the application of double standards, a prosecutorial stance towards Russia, and outrageous lies about the country and its leadership foisted on the American public.
Then English takes on directly all of the paranoia over Russia’s alleged challenge to Western democratic processes. He calls attention instead to how U.S. foreign policy and the European Union’s own policies in the new Member States and candidate Member States have created all the conditions for a populist revolt by buying off local elites and subjecting the broad populace in these countries to pauperization.
English concludes his essay with a call to give détente with Putin and Russia a chance.
Who Is Robert English?
English’s Wikipedia entry and biographical data provided on his University of Southern California web pages make it clear that he has quality academic credentials: Master of Public Administration and PhD. in politics from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He also has a solid collection of scholarly publications to his credit as author or co-editor with major names in the field of Russian-Soviet intellectual history.
He spent six years doing studies for U.S. intelligence and defense: 1982–1986 at the Department of Defense and 1986-88 at the U.S. Committee for National Security. And he has administrative experience as the Director of the USC School of International Relations.
Professor English is not without his political ambitions. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, he tried to secure a position as foreign policy adviser to Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders. In pursuit of this effort, English had the backing of progressives at The Nation, which in February 2016 published an article of his entitled “Bernie Sanders, the Foreign Policy Realist of 2016.”
English’s objective was to demonstrate how wrong many people were to see in Sanders a visionary utopian incapable of defending America’s strategic interests. Amid the praise of Sanders in this article, English asserts that Sanders is as firm on Russia as Hillary Clinton.
By the end of the campaign, however, several tenacious neocons had attached themselves to Sanders’s inner circle and English departed. So, one might size up English as just one more opportunistic academic who will do whatever it takes to land a top job in Washington.
While there is nothing new in such “flexibility,” there is also nothing necessarily offensive in it. From the times of Machiavelli if not earlier, intellectuals have tended to be guns for hire. The first open question is how skilled they are in managing their sponsors as well as in managing their readers in the public. But there is also a political realism in such behavior, advancing a politician who might be a far better leader than the alternatives while blunting the attack lines that might be deployed against him or her.
Then, there are times, such as the article for Foreign Affairs, when an academic may be speaking for his own analysis of an important situation whatever the political costs or benefits. Sources who have long been close to English assure me that the points in his latest article match his true beliefs.
The Politics of Geopolitics
Yet, it is one thing to have a courageous author and knowledgeable scholar. It is quite another to find a publisher willing to take the heat for presenting views that venture outside the mainstream Establishment. In that sense, it is stunning that Foreign Affairs chose to publish English and let him destroy the groupthink that has dominated the magazine and the elite foreign policy circles for years.
The only previous exception to the magazine’s lockstep was an article by University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer entitled “Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault” published in September 2014. That essay shot holes in Official Washington’s recounting of the events leading up to the Russian annexation of Crimea and intervention in the Donbass.
It was a shock to many of America’s leading foreign policy insiders who, in the next issue, rallied like a collection of white cells to attack the invasive thinking. But there were some Foreign Affairs readers – about one-third of the commenters – who voiced agreement with Mearsheimer’s arguments. But that was a one-time affair. Mearsheimer appears to have been tolerated because he was one of the few remaining exponents of the Realist School in the United States. But he was not a Russia specialist.
Foreign Affairs may have turned to Robert English because the editors, as insider-insiders, found themselves on the outside of the Trump administration looking in. The magazine’s 250,000 subscribers, which include readers from across the globe, expect Foreign Affairs to have some lines into the corridors of power.
In that regard, the magazine has been carrying water for the State Department since the days of the Cold War. For instance, in the spring issue of 2007, the magazine published a cooked-up article signed by Ukrainian politician Yuliya Tymoshenko on why the West must contain Russia, a direct response to Putin’s famous Munich speech in which he accused the United States of destabilizing the world through the Iraq War and other policies.
Anticipating Hillary Clinton’s expected election, Foreign Affairs’ editors did not hedge their bets in 2016. They sided with the former Secretary of State and hurled rhetorical bricks at Donald Trump. In their September issue, they compared him to a tin-pot populist dictator in South America.
Thus, they found themselves cut off after Trump’s surprising victory. For the first time in many years in the opening issue of the New Year following a U.S. presidential election, the magazine did not feature an interview with the incoming Secretary of State or some other cabinet member.
Though Official Washington’s anti-Russian frenzy seems to be reaching a crescendo on Capitol Hill with strident hearings on alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election, the underlying reality is that the neocons are descending into a fury over their sudden loss of power.
The hysteria was highlighted when neocon Sen. John McCain lashed out at Sen. Rand Paul after the libertarian senator objected to special consideration for McCain’s resolution supporting Montenegro’s entrance into NATO. In a stunning breach of Senate protocol, a livid McCain accused Paul of “working for Vladimir Putin.”
Meanwhile, some Democratic leaders have begun cautioning their anti-Trump followers not to expect too much from congressional investigations into the supposed Trump-Russia collusion on the election.
In publishing Robert English’s essay challenging much of the anti-Russian groupthink that has dominated Western geopolitics over the past few years, Foreign Affairs may be finally bending to the recognition that it is risking its credibility if it continues to put all its eggs in the we-hate-Russia basket.
That hedging of its bets may be a case of self-interest, but it also may be an optimistic sign that the martyred Fifteenth Century Catholic Church reformer Jan Hus was right when he maintained that eventually the truth will prevail.
Gilbert Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.
Back on October 10th 2016, shortly after the US intelligence community published its first claim that Russia was trying to interfere in the US election, I wrote an article for The Duran in which I pointed out that the true story was that for the first time in its history the US intelligence community was interfering in a US election in order to swing the election behind its favoured candidate – Hillary Clinton – and that the practices the US intelligence community had honed to interfere in elections in other countries were now being imported to the US.
In an article for The Duran on October 31st 2016 – just a week before the election – I said that Hillary Clinton and her supporters had planted a bomb under US democracy by orchestrating a campaign claiming that her opponent Donald Trump was the favoured candidate of Russia, and that the result would be that if Donald Trump were elected his legitimacy as President would be challenged.
In a further article for The Duran on 10th December 2016, in the fraught run up to the inauguration and whilst the Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign were actively lobbying electors on the Electoral College to disregard the results of the election and to vote against Donald Trump, I said that the CIA and the US intelligence community by playing up the paranoia against Russia were engaging in what amounted to a coup against the country’s constitutionally elected President. The word ‘coup’ is now also being used by people like Mark Levin to describe what has been happening.
What we now learn is that the Obama administration, of which Hillary Clinton was once a part, used the US’s federal security and intelligence agencies during the election to spy on Hillary Clinton’s opponent, Donald Trump, and on his campaign. They did so despite the fact that no evidence existed or has ever come to light of any wrongdoing by Donald Trump or by anyone else working on his behalf or for his campaign such as would normally justify surveillance.
This is the true scandal of the US Presidential election of 2016. By contrast the various claims of Russian interference in the election are unproven and threadbare and almost certainly wrong, whilst the claims of illicit contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia are undoubtedly false and wrong.
Donald Trump is comparing this scandal to Watergate. On any objective assessment it is far worse than Watergate. The reason Richard Nixon had to set up his own amateur intelligence agency within the White House to carry out his ‘dirty tricks’ – the so-called “White House plumbers” – was because the federal security and intelligence agencies – the CIA and FBI – refused to do his bidding by acting against his political opponents. By contrast on this occasion these same federal security and intelligence agencies have actively colluded in taking action against Donald Trump – the Obama administration’s and Hillary Clinton’s electoral opponent – by carrying out surveillance upon him and his associates though there has never been any evidence that either he or they did anything wrong. That is something which ought to cause serious concern to people, though so far with the exception of a small number of people it does not appear to be doing so.
Nor did Nixon try to provide legal and political cover for his various activities by orchestrating a bogus campaign that his opponents were somehow allied to Russia or to some other foreign power (eg. China or North Vietnam). By contrast not only did the Obama White House, the Hillary Clinton campaign and certain officials within the US intelligence community do precisely that, but the smoke they have created around this bogus issue in order to conceal and justify their activities continues to confuse many people, and will no doubt go on doing so.
To be clear, just as the wiretapping of Donald Trump’s phone and of the Trump campaign are the real scandal of the US election of 2016, so the bogus Russia story is the real cover-up.
To say all this does not unfortunately mean that this scandal is going to play out the way it should, or that people will see it for what it really is.
Many powerful people in the US political system, including in the US’s Deep State, in the media and in Congress, are deeply implicated in this scandal, and they will fight tooth and nail any attempt to hold them to account, continuing to use the bogus Russia cover story to justify and protect themselves, as they have been doing successfully up to now.
Beyond that there are a great many people who have bought into the Russia story – bogus though it is – falling for the entirely wrong and repeatedly discredited psuedo-principle that there cannot be smoke without fire (there not only can be; there usually is).
Lastly, the paranoia about Russia in the US and in western Europe is now so great that it is easy to dupe many people by conjuring it.
Nonetheless, though it is far from sure that many people will be able to see the true scandal through all the smoke, the proof of the real scandal of the Presidential election of 2016 is now finally out there. It remains to be seen whether the highly corrupt and deeply compromised US political system retains sufficient vitality and integrity to investigate it.
Democrats will tell you that the Republicans are the reason the U.S. is the only industrial country in the world that does not have universal, government-provided health care. But, that’s not true. Despite their legislative majorities, the Republicans are not strong enough on their own to defeat a concerted campaign for a Medicare for All program, which is supported by overwhelming majorities of the public, including a very large percentage of Republicans. The U.S. does not have a single payer health care system because corporate Democratic leadership, most shamefully under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have confused the public about what is, and what is not, “universal” health care. They have offered counterfeit, private industry-based schemes – “Hillary-care” in 1993, Obamacare in 2009 — and fraudulently called them universal health care, when in fact these were bait-and-switch schemes designed to prevent the successful passage of a genuine single payer health program.
The numbers tell the tale. When Bill Clinton first ran for president in 1992, two-thirds of the public – 66 percent – told pollsters they supported a “national health insurance plan financed by tax money.” The Clintons instead responded with a secretly-hatched “managed competition” plan that relied on private insurers and took more than 1,300 pages to explain. “Hillary-care” died ignominiously in Congress.
By late 2006, an amazing 69 percent of Americans were telling pollsters they agreed with the statement that “it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have healthcare coverage.” Barack Obama was getting ready to make his run for the White House. He claimed to want something he called “universal health care.” Most people assumed he meant a single payer, Medicare for All-type program, but instead, Obama dusted off an old Republican private insurance-based plan devised by the far-right Heritage Foundation and later adopted by Republican Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
Not only was Obamacare unpopular on its own merits, but because Obama had used the trick terminology “universal health care” to describe his program, the public became confused and demoralized about the whole subject of government health care. By 2016, only 44 percent of the people had a positive reaction to the term “single payer health coverage.” However, nearly two-thirds of those polled — 64 percent — liked the idea of Medicare-for-All, which is a form of single payer. Medicare for the elderly is probably the nation’s most popular social safety net program, and younger folks would like to be part of it, too, including lots of low-income Republicans. Even Donald Trump used to be for it.
Medicare-for-All is an idea whose time has come — again! And, with Obamacare being dismantled and a health care emergency looming, one would think the Democrats would seize the time to push for a truly universal health care plan with such broad support. But, corporate Democratic leadership — just like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — do not really want single payer health care, because their fat cat contributors oppose it. Therefore, they will urge the people to waste their energy on trying to salvage some aspects of Obamacare.
Bernie Sanders will help them do it, because he’s still sheep-dogging for corporate Democrats.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
The Washington establishment’s hysteria over its favorite new “group think” – that Russian President Vladimir Putin put Donald Trump in the White House – could set the stage for the Democratic Party rebranding itself as America’s “war party” alongside the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party.
This political realignment – with the Democrats becoming the party of foreign interventionism and the Trump-led Republicans a more inwardly looking America First party – could be significant for the future. However, in another way, what we’re seeing is not new. It is a replay of other “group thinks” in which some foreign leader is demonized beyond all reason allowing any accusation to be lodged against him with virtually no pushback from anyone interested in maintaining a U.S. mainstream career.
We saw this pattern, for instance, in the run-up to the Iraq War when Saddam Hussein was demonized to such a degree that any accusation against him was accepted without question, such as him hiding WMDs and colluding with Al Qaeda. In that context, some individuals supposedly with “first-hand knowledge” – “Iraqi defectors” – showed up to elaborate on and personalize the anti-Saddam propaganda message. We learned only later that many were scripted by the U.S.-government-funded Iraqi National Congress.
Since 2011, we saw the same demonization treatment applied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who was depicted as a ruthless monster opposed by a “moderate opposition” which, in turn, was embraced by “human rights” groups, touted by Western media and applauded even by citizen “peace groups” around the United States and Europe. The Assad demonization obscured the fact that many “opposition” groups were part of an externally funded “regime change” project spearheaded by radical jihadists connected to Al Qaeda.
A Reagan Strategy
For me, this pattern goes back even further. I have witnessed these techniques since the 1980s when the Reagan administration tapped into CIA psychological warfare methods to rally the American people around a more interventionist foreign policy – to “kick the Vietnam Syndrome,” the public skepticism toward war that followed the Vietnam debacle.
Back then, senior CIA propagandist Walter Raymond Jr. was assigned to the National Security Council staff where he tutored young neocons, the likes of Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan, drumming into them that the key was to personalize the propaganda by demonizing a particular leader, making him eminently worthy of hate.
Raymond counseled his acolytes that the goal was always to “glue” black hats on the side in Washington’s crosshairs and white hats on the side that Washington favored. The grays of the real world were to be avoided and any politician or journalist who sought to deal in nuance was disparaged as a fill-in-the-blank “apologist.”
So, in the 1980s, the Reagan administration targeted Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, “the dictator in designer glasses,” as President Reagan dubbed him.
In 1989, before the invasion of Panama, Gen. Manuel Noriega got the treatment. In 1990, it was Saddam Hussein’s turn, deemed “worse than Hitler” by President George H.W. Bush. During the Clinton administration, the demon du jour was Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic. In all these cases, there were legitimate criticisms of these leaders, but their evils were inflated to fantastical proportions to justify bloody military interventions by the U.S. government and its allies.
Regime Change in Moscow?
The main difference in recent years is that Official Washington’s neocons and liberal interventionists have taken aim at Russia with the goal of “regime change” in Moscow, a strategy that risks the world’s nuclear annihilation. But except for the stakes, the old script is still being followed.
Rather than a realistic assessment of what happened in Ukraine, the American people and the West in general have been fed a steady diet of propaganda. As U.S. neocons and liberal interventionists pushed for and achieved the violent overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych, he was lavishly smeared as the embodiment of corruption over such items as a sauna in his official residence. Yanukovych wore the black hat and the street fighters of the Maidan, led by ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis, wore the white hats.
However, after Yanukovych’s unconstitutional ouster, his supporters, concentrated in Ukraine’s ethnic Russian areas, resisted the putsch. But the Western storyline was simply a Russian “invasion.” The absence of any evidence – like photos of an amphibious landing in Crimea or tanks crashing across Ukraine’s borders – didn’t seem to matter. Since Americans and Europeans had already been prepped to hate Putin, no evidence apparently was needed. The New York Times and other mainstream publications just reported any accusations as flat fact.
Even the exposure of a pre-coup phone call in which neocon U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland discussed with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who would lead the post-coup regime and how to “glue this thing” or “midwife this thing” didn’t matter either. Evidence of U.S. coup plotting wasn’t welcome because it didn’t fit the narrative of brave young Ukrainians promoting democracy by overthrowing the democratically elected leader.
Indeed, the leaked phone call, which the Western media attributed to Russian intelligence, became – rather than proof of U.S. coup plotting – an example of Moscow’s use of “kompromat” (i.e., compromising material) against the “victim,” Assistant Secretary Nuland, who was embarrassed because she had also disparaged the European Union’s lack of aggressiveness with the pithy remark, “Fuck the E.U.”
So, while many of these U.S. propaganda patterns can be traced back to Reagan and his desire to “kick the Vietnam Syndrome,” they have truly become bipartisan. Up had become down whichever party was in office with the mainstream media reinforcing the propaganda themes and deceptions.
The Trump Future
One can expect that the Trump administration will come to enjoy its own control over the levers of propaganda – especially given President Trump’s obsession with always being right no matter what the contrary evidence – but there has been some addition by subtraction in the changeover of administrations.
Many of the neocons and liberal hawks who nested in the Obama administration – people like Victoria Nuland – are gone. That at least creates the possibility for some fresh thinking on such issues as continuing the “information war” against Putin and Russia. A more realistic assessment regarding the Kremlin may be possible given the fact that Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn are not Russo-phobes and have personal experience with the Kremlin.
But the Democrats – and even progressives – appear determined to keep alive the anti-Russian hysteria that reached “group think” levels in the final weeks of the Obama administration and is now being carried forward by leading liberal organizations.
As James W. Carden reported for The Nation, “In the time between the November election and [Trump’s] inauguration, the Center for American Progress (CAP) and its president, former Hillary Clinton aide Neera Tanden, have been at the forefront of what some are calling ‘the resistance.’ Yet one troubling aspect of ‘the resistance’ seems to be its belief that Trump owes his surprise victory in the early morning hours of November 9 to the Russian government.”
Carden cited a session at CAP’s Washington headquarters at which Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Tanden hammered home the U.S. intelligence community’s still evidence-free claims that Putin ordered his intelligence services to sabotage Clinton’s campaign and help Trump. Again, details and nuance were unwelcome and unnecessary since the villains were the thoroughly demonized Putin and the widely despised (at least in Democratic circles) Trump.
But there are multiple dangers from the continuation of this propaganda narrative: the obvious one is the risk that the Washington establishment will make the Putin-Trump “guilt” a certified “group think” rather than a charge that needs careful analysis and that certitude could lead to an eventual nuclear showdown with Russia.
Another risk, however, is that the Democrats will come to believe that Putin’s interference defeated Hillary Clinton and thus a desperately needed self-evaluation won’t happen.
Even if Putin did have his intelligence agents hack Democratic emails and then slipped them to WikiLeaks (although its founder Julian Assange and an associate, former U.K. Ambassador Craig Murray, have denied this), it is clear that the contents of the emails were legitimate and revealed some newsworthy facts about both the Democratic National Committee’s tilting the playing field against Sen. Bernie Sanders and what Clinton told Wall Street bankers in paid speeches that she was hiding from the voters. In other words, the emails weren’t disinformation; they provided real facts that the American people had a right to know before heading to the polls.
But the other key point is that these emails had little impact on the election. Even Clinton herself initially put the blame for her defeat on FBI Director James Comey for briefly reopening and then re-closing an investigation into her use of a private email server as Secretary of State. It was then that her poll numbers began to crater – and Putin had nothing to do with either her reckless decision to conduct State Department business through her private email server or Comey’s decisions regarding the investigation.
But the blame-Putin diversion has enabled the national Democratic Party to avoid reexamining its own contributions to Trump’s Electoral College victory, particularly its insistence on nominating Clinton despite many polls showing her high unfavorable numbers and a widespread recognition that 2016 was an anti-establishment year. The Democratic Party put on blinders to ignore the grave vulnerabilities of its candidate and the sour mood of the electorate.
In a larger sense, the Democratic Party ignored its own reputation as a home for internationalists, elitists and interventionists. Indeed, Clinton chose to cater to the neocons who are very influential in Official Washington but carry little weight in Middle America. Then, she made things worse by insulting many white blue-collar Americans as “deplorables.”
Yet, instead of conducting a thorough autopsy of their demise – sinking into minority status in Congress and across the country – the Democrats apparently think they can whistle past their political graveyard by blaming their defeat on Putin and by building a movement based on attacking Trump’s erratic and offensive behavior, very similar to the failed strategy that Clinton employed last fall.
Not only does this negative strategy threaten again to backfire but – by feeding into a new and dangerous Cold War – it risks tying the Democrats to conflict and militarism and letting the Trump Republicans position themselves as the alternatives to endless and escalating wars.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
All we have to do to highlight the enormous hypocrisy and double standards which are the hallmark of domestic and international politics is to switch the names around.
Actions taken by Western establishment approved countries and actors which are deemed to be totally uncontroversial-would be deemed to be ‘absolutely outrageous’ if done to them.
Here’s a few examples:
Just imagine… if a close Russian ally, whose forces were trained by Russia, was bombing the poorest country in the Middle East, with cluster bombs supplied by Moscow. Furthermore, in the country that was being attacked, a famine threatened the lives millions of people.
Well, the poorest country in the Middle East is Yemen, and it’s being bombed to smithereens by the one of the richest, Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Britain, using UK-made cluster bombs. And guess what, the West’s ‘something must be done brigade,’ who expressed so much ’humanitarian’ concern over the fighting to regain Aleppo from Al-Qaeda/Al Nusra terrorists, are silent. How strange.
Just imagine… if a plane carrying members of a famous French military choir had crashed on Christmas Day, killing everyone on board. And that shortly afterwards, a leading Russian ’satirical magazine’ had mocked the tragedy, drawing cartoons of the choir singing to ‘a new audience’ on the seabed and posted a caption saying that the only ‘bad news’ about the crash was that French President Francois Hollande had not been on board. There would, I’m sure, have been plenty of ‘superior’ discussion in Western media about the ‘moral depravity’ and the ‘dark soul’ of the Russian character. But the plane that crashed was carrying Russian singers. And it was the elite-approved Charlie Hebdo magazine which poked fun at the dead.
So there was no outcry in the West. And no accusations of ‘racism.’
Just imagine… if it had been NATO, and not the Warsaw Pact, which had been disbanded at the end of the old Cold War. And then Russia, breaking the promises it had made to the US President, had expanded the Warsaw Pact right up to the borders of the USA, deploying thousands of troops and dozens of tanks and other military hardware in Mexico and Canada. Would commentators in ‘respectable‘ establishment journals be calling this ‘American aggression‘? I think not.
Just imagine… if a senior political officer at the Russian Embassy in London had been caught on film talking about the ‘take down’ of a British Foreign Officer Minister deemed to be too critical of Russia and who was causing the country “a lot of problems.” That there was a group called ‘Labour Friends of Russia’ and the political officer said the Embassy had a fund of more than £1m for them? We can be sure that the revelations would have led, at the very least, to diplomatic expulsions, the announcement of a full-scale government investigation, as well as a plethora of articles on the ‘outrageous’ interference by Russia in British political affairs. But the senior political officer caught on film was working for Israel, so a potential plot about the ’take down’ of a UK minister was deemed to be not a very important news story. By more or less the same people who would have been telling us it was a very important news story if it had involved Russia.
Just imagine… if Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump had won the US Presidential election in November and Trump’s supporters had behaved in the way that Clinton’s have. That intelligence officials had tried to de-legitimize Clinton’s victory by claiming Saudi interference in the election, and produced as proof of this a document which drew attention to Saudi TV‘s alleged pro-Clinton stance.
Then, a week before the inauguration of President-elect Clinton was due to take place, the US media publicized a dossier compiled by an ex-intelligence officer from another country claiming Saudi Arabia was blackmailing Clinton, even though the dossier was unverified and contained glaring factual errors. The papers would I’m sure be full of commentary from ’liberal’ pundits raging about a ‘coup’ and anti-democratic attempts to overturn the election result. However, Trump won on November 8th, and not Clinton, so he’s fair game for ‘Deep State’ attacks. All in the name of ‘democracy.’
Just imagine… if UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had urged MPs to support a socialist ’Peace Rocket,’ which would cost the British taxpayer at least £31 billion and possibly as much as £205 billion, over its lifetime. That Corbyn had praised the ‘Peace Rocket’ as being ’worth every penny’ and absolutely essential for Britain and for the peace of the world. Then, after Parliament had voted in favor, it came to light that the Peace Rocket had misfired on a test and that Corbyn had kept schtum about it. That four times he had been asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr if he had known about the misfire, and four times he had avoided answering the question.
We can be sure the calls for Corbyn to resign would have been deafening. That there would have been fearsome denunciations of the ‘enormous waste’ of taxpayers money on a ‘socialist vanity project.’ And that the vote on the ‘Peace Rocket’ would be held again. But it was the elite-approved Trident and not a socialist ‘Peace Rocket‘ that misfired, so the response has been very different.
We’re told the malfunction of Britain’s ‘independent nuclear deterrent,’ and the failure of the government to mention it before Parliament voted on renewal, is no big deal. That the misfiring Trident is still worth spending billions of pounds of taxpayers money on at a time of austerity. And of course, there is absolutely no need for Parliament to debate the issue again…
Just imagine… if Russia had spent $5 billion in trying to bring about a regime change in Canada, with neo-Nazis providing the ‘cutting edge’ of anti-government protests. That torchlight processions by neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists -commemorating wartime SS divisions were held in the new ‘democratic’ Canada.
We could expect widespread condemnations and denunciations of Russia’s ‘links’ to the ’far right.’ But it’s happening in Ukraine. And guess what? The West’s ‘fascism is coming’ brigade are not the slightest bit interested.
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership.
Follow Neil Clark on Twitter @NeilClark66
There are many indications of the deep systemic crisis now confronting America and the world. The fact that Donald Trump was elected president when neither his party nor any of the elites wanted him is just one piece of evidence. The bizarre passivity from Democrats after their party’s colossal failure is another. These people who are loath to point out the extent of the Democrats’ disintegration do little else but repeat the many reasons they don’t like Trump. Increasingly they use Russophobia and what was once the language of the right wing to do it.
The crisis of legitimacy has turned the world upside down. People who call themselves progressives are engaged in a contest to see who can blame Russia when the failings come from their own leadership. This columnist witnessed participants in anti-Trump inaugural protests carrying signs attacking Vladimir Putin and blaming him for the election outcome.
The evidence of Russian interference in the elections is based on the flimsiest evidence. It is far more likely that an insider gave the Democratic National Committee emails to Wikileaks. Trump’s call for dialogue with Russia is a reasonable one that should call progressives to question why they cling to the war party when they say they want peace. Instead they join in helping the Democrats to excuse their debacle. In so doing they support a very dangerous effort to expand American hegemony against another nuclear power.
Democrats are eager to embarrass themselves in the Russophobic frenzy. A California state legislator is sponsoring a bill that would require schools to teach children that the Russian government interfered in the election. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have joined in sinking to new depths of stupidity and uselessness.
Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against war in Afghanistan after the September 11th attacks, is now among those pointing fingers at Russia. She opposed the Electoral College certification of Trump’s victory based on a belief in the findings of the “intelligence community.” This new phrase was chosen deliberately to make the institutions that deprive millions of people of their human rights seem more like a neighborhood block association. Her colleague Elijah Cummings was equally idiotic. “If we don’t respond now the Russians will attack us again.” It is sad to watch Maxine Waters, once among the most progressive members, as she blathers on that Putin and Trump “wrap their arms around each other” and are “in the bed together.” She says that Putin is responsible for “killing innocent children in Syria” when the United States instigated that humanitarian disaster and Russia may bring it to a close.
The orders from the discredited Democratic leadership are clear. Everyone parrots the same foolish words. All repeat that “seventeen intelligence agencies” confirm Russian interference and use the phrase “intelligence community” as if they were hypnotized cult members. Such is the degree of irrelevance now afflicting Democrats from the leadership down to the rank and file.
Democrats are no longer interested in action, demands or debate. They treat their party as if it is a religion to be worshipped and not as a political force that is supposed to deliver what they want. It is astounding that Hillary Clinton raised $1 billion and lost because she failed to gain an additional 77,000 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Even more astounding is the fact that Democrats won’t call her or the rest of their leadership to account for their stunning and ignominious failure.
The years of marketing spin and acquiescence to Democratic Party corruption have brought the leadership and members to a new low. Having given up their power to the likes of Clinton, Obama and another Clinton, Democrats have rendered themselves mute. The Obama team’s famous marketing acumen turned into a poison. The era of being able to fool all of the people all of the time had ended but the Democratic Party persisted in thinking they could use the same thin gruel and win again.
Instead, a reality television star found a way to touch the nerve of millions of desperate people. If the Democrats acknowledged that most Americans have a yearly income of less than $31,000 or that national student loan debt totals an astronomical $1 trillion they may have seen Hillary Clinton inaugurated instead of Trump. But they failed and won’t admit it. Now their members have chosen to let them off the hook by spinning tall tales of Russian espionage. They no longer even pretend to care about the issues their constituents do, and that is why Hillary Clinton isn’t the new president.
The members of the CBC have now proven themselves to be the worst of the lot. Years of capitulation to corporate interests and to Barack Obama have killed black politics. The anti-Russia mutterings are proof of their irrelevance. But they should not just be ignored. They must be taken on and called out because they are most likely to fight our efforts at self-determination and revolutionary change. The best that can be said about their sad performance is that they have exposed themselves as dupes and traitors. It is always a good thing to see the truth, no matter how sad it may be.
Margaret Kimberley can be reached at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
Donald Trump’s election victory has brought an end to the Clinton era of intervention in Serbia’s internal affairs, including the murky web of connections between NGO’s in the US and abroad, experts told Sputnik Srbija.
When the US election results were announced in November 8, representatives of Serbia’s NGO elite were in attendance at Belgrade’s Crown Plaza Hotel, where the US Embassy had organized a get-together.
In a straw poll conducted of those present, Hillary Clinton was the clear winner, and her defeat was greeted with disbelief and disappointment by those who have grown used to getting support from American government and non-government organizations.
Political analyst Branko Radun told Sputnik Srbija that supporters of Clinton among Serbia’s pressure groups can be divided into two groups – those who were thinking with their heads, and those who were thinking with their wallets.
“I would divide the pro-Clinton elite in two. The first group is parties, NGO’s, the media and individuals which are ideologically close to American liberals and Democrats and are connected with them in various ways, including ideologically. The second group is parties, organizations and individuals which following the overthrow of Milosevic got used to a situation whereby we have a pro-Clinton elite. In order to survive on the political scene, they made compromises and deals with domestic ‘Clintonistas’ and with the global elite, comprised above all of American Democrats, that liberal, pro-Soros global elite,” Radun said.
Radun said that changes to Serbia’s political situation will take some time to become clear.
“These changes will come in phases. Firstly, of course, there will be a change in the structure of the State Department, so those who have links there will immediately feel the change. Others, who may have ties to other structures, will feel the changes later. I think those changes don’t seem dramatic and visible at the moment.”
Analyst Dejan Vuk Stankovic said that Serbian NGO’s have had good reason to promote liberal American values in Serbia, thanks to funds from organizations such as US AID, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The NDI and the IRI are affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.
“This is an interesting network of individuals, the non-governmental sector, some opposition parties, I would not rule out that there are also some people within the current governing structures. But in general, (they are) the post-Milosevic political elite and the remnants of their media and NGO, their open or hidden allies in the robes of civil society or independent societies of journalists, lawyers and so on,” Stankovic said.
“I think the choice of Trump is not good news for NGO beneficiaries of American grants. This does not mean that there won’t be any, there will be, but on a much smaller scale. I doubt that Trump will have any particular engagement with what Democrats were engaged in when in power. That political work which had various forms of subversion: the preparation for and the destruction of political regimes via the non-government sector with the help of opposition parties. I think Trump will put politics in some kind of official context, as a politician he will be without ideological vices. He will hold negotiations in the way in which business deals are made.”
Radun said that despite the disappointment in some quarters, a Clinton victory would not have benefited Serbia. In fact, a Clinton administration was likely to raise tensions in the Balkans by inflaming the situation in Kosovo and neighboring Bosnia.
“First of all, pressure on Republika Srpska would have increased and in the direction of its suppression. There would also have been an attempt to complete the constitution of Kosovo as an independent state. On the other hand, with Trump somehow we start from scratch. The situation is uncertain, but compared to the other side (Clinton), which would certainly have been negative, uncertainty is better because with uncertainty you have a chance,” said Radun.