The corporate mainstream media’s massive campaign to de-legitimize Donald Trump’s election as president is failing and will eventually epically fail. In the process media are destroying themselves, which is a blessing for free speech and a healthy public sphere. In the end, attempts to de-legitimize Trump will de-legitimize the de-legitimizers.
There can be no doubt what kind of relationship President Trump will have with the corporate media. His calling out CNN as fake news tells us everything we need to know. The Clinton Network News backed the Democratic Party’s nominee, sought to explain Hillary Clinton’s defeat as the result of nefarious actors (the Russians did it! ), and now it is desperately attempting to portray Trump as being in cahoots with Vladimir Putin. CNN is fake news – it has no real use of facts; it relies almost exclusively on its core narrative: justifying and reinforcing its liberal worldview at the behest of the unelected Deep State.
There is no way around it – Hillary Clinton lost the election on her own merits (or lack thereof). She believed she deserved to be coronated because it was her turn. She believed she was entitled to the presidency. The media believed and acted in the same way. Instead of reporting on the campaign, media constructed a “story” that reinforced Clinton’s sense of entitlement. In a very important way mainstream media intentionally de-legitimized the election before the first ballot was cast.
The corporate media’s treatment of Donald Trump was also part of the de-legitimizing process. During the Republican primary he was media’s favorite – he was good for ratings and advertising dollars. He was portrayed as a buffoon and as such the perfect reason to vote for Clinton. Media didn’t cover Trump in a conventional way – he was always a marketing tool to legitimize the candidacy of Clinton. In the process media completely overlooked what was really happening: Trump built a coalition and possibly a political movement.
Trump’s victory and the GOP’s return as the ruling party was the doings of the media, though unwittingly. They got Clinton wrong; they got Trump wrong, failed to honestly cover the election, believed in their own propaganda, and only talked among themselves – all while disparaging the very real pain of many voters. Incredibly, though not surprisingly, the mainstream media cannot acknowledge these hard truths – or said differently accept real news.
This lack of introspection fuels fake news and accelerates the de-legitimization campaign against Trump. At the same time the mainstream media is signing its own death warrant. They will not be missed.
Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.
A raw and sometimes darkly comic survey of America’s treacherous political terrain
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | January 12, 2017
The books about The Wizard of Oz were written as satire on American politics, but Hollywood, in its inimitable way, turned them into a song-and-dance picture for children. Still, one scene in the film has a sense of the author’s intent. That scene is when Dorothy, in Emerald City, approaches a closet-like structure, which, as it happens, is the Wizard’s control booth for sounds and smoke and lights, his special effects for intimidating visitors and impressing them with non-existent power.
The entrance curtain happens to be open, so Dorothy sees a modest man busily pulling levers and pushing buttons and speaking into a microphone which alters his voice into a great booming one, echoing like a great organ in a cathedral. When the man realizes that he is being watched, he makes a last effort and booms out words along the lines of “Pay no attention to the man in the booth.” Of course, the jig is up, and we all understand there is no wizard.
What better allegory for events in Washington today could there be? We have booming noises and smoke and glaring lights, and it all comes from a rather sad little – little in the sense of failed – man with about two weeks left to sit at his big desk and pretend that he is a great and powerful wizard. Except, when you are President, as this man is, you can never be observed in your control booth and you have your stunts and booming claims seconded by a chorus of flacks, hangers-on, and political appointees, presumably lending a semblance of authenticity and substance.
What the controversy engendered by “the Russians did it” has achieved is almost the opposite to what was intended. Dubious claims and pretend evidence have caused lights to shine brightly over what is a blanketing fabric of dishonesty in America’s establishment. The fabric covers everything from foreign affairs and the military to the details of domestic affairs. It is immense, complex, and carefully constructed covering, and those who created it have very little tolerance for any of it being scrutinized under spotlights. Achieving this scrutiny may be regarded as Obama’s final act of failure.
Whether it is “the Russians hacked the DNC” or “America has been bombing ISIS in Syria” or “the Russians threaten Eastern Europe” or “the Russians committed atrocities in Aleppo” or “Russia shot down Flight MH-17,” the same tiresome actors making the same unsupported claims have for eight years expected that just their inflated job titles should intimidate us into believing them. Proof? Who needs that? Would I lie to you about such matters? Once you start something foolish as Obama has done, and it is widely understood as being foolish, you only weaken your authority over all the other less-obviously dubious claims you have been making. The fabric of lies becomes weakened, and that is one of Obama’s small, but unintended, achievements now.
Even as I write these words, the first big wave of the Obama-Clinton unsupported claims, unsupported, that is, except by hack appointees like James Clapper, is receding. The world quickly reached a verdict of “nonsense.” But a second wave now laps up with an equally unsupported claim that the Russians have a compromising dossier on Donald Trump, an attempt to plant the idea that Russia will have direct influence over Trump’s policies. This malicious effort at “poisoning the well” for a political successor, brings to mind the time, some years back, when the ugliest of clutch of Israeli settlers, those who swaggered around Gaza behind barbed wire enclosed-compounds, full of attitude and always toting light machine guns while under the malevolent guard of Israeli soldiers, decided to leave their hopeless situation. They quite literally poisoned the water wells they had used before strutting away. I cannot imagine a much shabbier act. But here is Obama and his appointees doing much the same thing, effectively hacking away at what little democracy America has left out of sheer maliciousness.
I don’t mean to say that such gross lying began with Obama. The wizard’s control booth for smoke and lights and thundering sounds was not invented by him. There was nothing but eight years of lies from the weird triumvirate presidency of Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush and from the corrupt and often-inept Clinton government. Lies are what big countries or organizations do when their activities will not stand up to public scrutiny. When countries secretly play dirty tricks, when they kill, and when they apply mafia-like pressure on allies and international organizations to do as they are told, they simply lie about all of it, always. Such activity has characterized America for a very long time. How can it be otherwise when you try to control the planet?
It’s just that eight years ago, we had some reason to believe Obama would be different, at least a little different, but he is not. He is just as shabby, murderous, and deceitful as his immediate predecessors, sometimes even more so. He has been at war somewhere every single day of his eight years. He has bombed seven countries. In his last year alone, he is said to have dropped over 26,000 bombs. Literally hundreds of thousands have died at the hands of the Peace Prize winner with the big boyish smile. I’ve often asked myself what it is that motivates Obama, and I don’t know. Sometimes he seems to fit the well-known pattern of the charming, smiling psychopath who secretly likes to kill.
Sometimes he just seems weak and, yes, cowardly, someone who has allowed the brass and big suits around those conference tables to run roughshod over him, leaving him with nothing but the pretense of authority. This could explain what is a remarkable sense of arrogance observed at times when he is around outsiders as a kind of psychological reflex to his living in his job under constant bullying. After all, Bush’s whole presidency was a pretense: he pretended to be president, and Cheney and Rumsfeld – the precise quality of men who, had they lived in 1930s’ Germany would have been seen happily “working towards the Führer” as they used to say – deferentially allowed him to do so as they ran everything. Bush was the first president to prove America doesn’t even need a president except to sign documents, much like the formal requirement for a witness’s signature on a legal document.
We know, too, that Bush was as close to a moron as ever held the office, because we watched his insipid face and listened to his inability to articulate a clear sentence for eight years. Sometimes, we do see glimmers of something similar from Obama, statements and behaviors that would not be expected from someone of forceful intelligence – the unsupported Russian hacking accusations being one, but also such matters as his foolish public dismissal of Russia, the only country which can literally obliterate the United States, as a great power – only with Obama we don’t see Bush’s Alfred E. Neuman look, we see a serious, stiff mien and a tone and posture of arrogance. A well-practiced cover-up behavior for inadequacies?
I don’t know, and it really does not matter. He has been a terrible president in every important respect, but he maintains a fair number of supporters who I guess are impressed with the big boyish smile, although that is seen far less often now, the baritone voice, and perhaps the sheer, unprecedented fact of a black man standing in his position. There’s no accounting for taste or popularity, as we see in every corner of contemporary celebrity culture, and American politics absolutely has an important element of celebrity culture, just as it loves to use celebrities as endorsements. Think of the last days of Hillary Clinton’s tired campaign when she had, yes, Beyoncé and Jay Z appearing in Ohio. It is hard to imagine what political or economic or social information that pair of pop celebrities had to offer voters, and it was reported by some that they were quietly paid millions for some minutes of effort to help swing the state with razzle-dazzle. After all, this was the Hillary Campaign, a glorious travelling circus that is estimated to have burned through $1.2 billion.
Many do expect something different from Trump, and we can hope their expectations are well-founded. His entire path to the presidency does show some unorthodox attitudes and methods – unorthodox, that is, by the claustrophobic standards and practices of that center of world empire, Washington, not unorthodox in some wider sense – and they show a very tough and driven man. It is simply a fact that anyone missing the last quality cannot function effectively as President in 21st-century America. The general environment in Washington, without the least exaggeration, may be compared to the proverbial snake pit or to scenes from the last days of Roman Empire.
That is why, for example, Bernie Sanders is such a hopeless hope. The man conducted an impressive crusade, displaying considerable skills, yet he just folded in the end, leaving his enthusiastic followers in limbo and giving up to Hillary Clinton who represented almost everything he opposed and who stood before him as someone who had just clearly cheated him out of the nomination through a whole range of cheats, ploys and gimmicks. Yet, he just accepted her and even did some campaigning for her.
Such a personality offers zero promise in face-to-faces with Pentagon generals, CIA Big Suits, mega-corporation presidents, and some foreign leaders who are closer to Mafiosi than politicians. What do you expect out of a little place like Vermont? It’s lovely. I’ve spent time there. But it resembles a great deal something from a backlot set for “Lassie Come Home” or “Anne of Green Gables.” I know, I know, Bernie originally came from hard-bitten New York, but the operative word there is “came.” Whatever his reasons for seeking bucolic, low-stress bliss, they do not make him material for presiding over Washington’s Chamber of Horrors.
Many Americans themselves, including both liberals and conservatives, are well aware of the dishonesty of their government, if only in a vague sense, but they know the task of doing anything about it is just too overwhelming and difficult to consider. After all, peasants on a 17th century estate hardly dared dream of changing the “natural order” in which they lived. And ordinary Americans work extremely hard to raise their families, and a great many of them do not work at all. They do not command great resources for all the costs and activities of a crusade. The general human condition in Western countries has not changed quite so much as some like to imagine over a few centuries of enlightenment and progress. A huge number of Americans count only for brief moments when their ballots are sought with sound-bites and vacuous ads. Afterwards, the establishment goes on just as before, ignoring them and getting back to the business of lying.
The papers people read – and, thanks to the spreading, corrosive effects of American imperialism, I include other Western countries, not just the United States – and the broadcasts to which they listen are uniform in discouraging any truly fresh way of looking at things and in suppressing the hope that arrangements can be much different. They universally avoid telling the truth where government prefers that they don’t. The idea of independent and principled journalism is something you only find in brochures for journalism schools or in Hollywood films.
The two major American political parties – together forming a duopoly of political power little different in overall its effect from the kind of monopoly power American authorities like to disparage in other, “less free” places – certainly do not provide much room for fresh voices or new initiatives. Over long periods, they can actually be quite stifling, much like high officials in a church concerning accepted truth and doctrine. The parties are totally dominated by money – money that can only come in the volumes required for marketing, advertising, polls, make-up artists, wardrobe consultants, facilities of every kind, publicity, and travel expenses from extremely wealthy people and special interests who are not the least interested in any significant change to a very cozy and comfortable situation.
The dominance of the Clintons in the Democratic Party through their money connections has been an arrangement to defend the status quo. It was a clever construction. The Clintons got to be center stage, play-acting as liberals and agents of change, in exchange for the kind of money which absolutely guaranteed that they never for a moment could forgot that they were just playing parts, not really doing anything of consequence. Bill Clinton’s record as President is interchangeable, remarkably so, with what might have been expected from a traditional Republican. Hillary’s record as Secretary of State made her promise for the future, if anything, far more extreme in the same direction, and especially when it came to serving special interests and waging bloody war. The woman wore $11,000 Armani suits regularly and commanded $300,000 a pop plus expenses and comforts (right down to a standard demand for a certain bottled water to be supplied) for a long series of tedious speeches on America’s military given to investment bankers, and she made private jokes about people dying, as we know she said of Julian Assange, “Couldn’t we just drone him or something?” Or there was her appalling joke about the murder of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, a man who had been a good leader to his people, “We came, we saw, he died! Ha, ha, ha!”
The Democratic Party, given its distant past, especially the now all-but-forgotten legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, is the one from which an outsider viewing America, with no close knowledge of it, might reasonably have expected to find some prospect for change. But that seems a naïve hope if you understand who are the interests keeping the wheels of the organization turning.
The Democratic Party has become completely an establishment party, and one that literally morphed into the War Party along the way. Today, it offers a menu of the lightest possible offerings of social interest – the political equivalent of a platter of Ladies’ Tearoom sandwiches and dainties served by waiters in white gloves – just to differentiate itself from the Republicans and to make Americans of any degree of genuine liberal sentiment feel a little more comfortable. Since there aren’t a great number of the latter left in America by all appearances, the offerings can indeed be extremely modest.
Of course, these menu offerings consist of suggestions, attitudes, and slogans, not hard proposals for change, real change, in anything. The Democrats’ recent history of political behavior much resembles what mega-corporations do when they stick an image of a pink bow on their product packaging for a while and run a few, likely tax-deductible, ads promising purchasers that they will be helping in the fight against breast cancer by buying the brand. Imagine a package of Marlboros with a pink bow printed on it, and you get the picture.
Nothing better represents this modern Democratic leitmotif than Hillary Clinton’s long record of sound-bite concerns on many topics accompanied by a record of no actual effort spent on doing anything beyond getting elected. She started her last campaign saying every woman who is a rape victim deserved to be believed – something surely many young women and sympathetic men found re-assuring – yet she herself had dismissed privately, out-of-hand, for years a platoon of women pointing to her own predatory husband with the same charge.
Again, her displeasure with the Electoral College – echoed recently after her defeat – was first declared back in 2000, when George Bush won with a popular minority, but there is no record of her doing any work towards amending that outdated and anti-democratic provision of the Constitution, as during her eight years as a Senator. No, that would be a huge task to undertake, and political rewards are greater for sound-bites than they are for actual slogging hard work on anything most people do not even understand. Captains on the bridge with their gold braid and brass buttons on immaculate uniforms get noticed, not the sweating engineers actually running the ship down in the boiler room.
Make no mistake, the Democrats are bedrock establishment today, a party defending mostly backward views of the world and of American society. They are nothing more than the political Coke to the Republican’s Pepsi, or vice versa. And all the endorsements and advertising in the world do not change the reality of two sugary, dyed, fizzy drinks, indistinguishable in taste to many. Eight years of Obama – a man whose first campaign saw him sometimes wearing sandals and eschewing a totemic, imperialistic American flag pin on his lapel and intoning to cheering crowds, “Yes, we can” – proved that beyond all doubt.
Political figures like Ralph Nader or Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein are pretty close to irrelevant in the steaming boiler room of real American politics. Ideas are virtually never an issue in American elections. Neither is improving government’s service to citizens, from education to healthcare. Neither is the proper financing and budgeting of government. Neither is a reduction to insane military and security spending. How can it be otherwise in this “pounding fist” of an imperial society? All such American politicians tend to remind one of some naïve political science professor lecturing a rapt first-year audience of undergraduates excited about being out of high school and entering “the real world.”
This is the center of a world empire. It maintains a gigantic military which virtually never stops fighting wars, none of them having anything to do with defense. It has created an intelligence monstrosity which makes old outfits like the Stazi seem almost quaint, and it spies on everyone. Indeed, it maintains seventeen national security establishments, as though you can never have too much of a good thing. And some of these guys, too, are engaged full-time in forms of covert war, from fomenting trouble in other lands and interfering in elections to overthrowing governments.
Barack Obama is not one of those marginal American politicians, having gained the leadership of one of the two great parties, and yet in eight years he changed almost nothing worth changing. Whether the plight of whistleblowers in America or the third-world conditions prevailing in American cities where many of his fellow black people survive in squalor. He did nothing to reform a financial system that gave the world a collapse from which it still has not recovered. He did virtually nothing about the nation’s rotting schools or rotting infrastructure. He whined about guns but never acted in a serious way on the huge problem of police who shoot people dead on the nation’s streets, more than 1,100 of them last year alone
Yet he signed, time after time, record legislation for squandering money on the military and Big Intelligence. Under his command, the Pentagon literally burned pallet-load shipments of cash on bad programs such as the failed F-35 fighter, a new super-aircraft carrier that doesn’t work, a new type of littoral combat ship that doesn’t work, and a new Zumwalt-class destroyer that has proven an embarrassment. And there are the hugely expensive and highly intrusive NSA Supercomputer Data Centers. This is not a record of which to be proud, and it is about as far from liberal or progressive as you can go.
And, of course, this “liberal,” as so many insist still on calling him, ended by killing more people than any dictator or demagogue of this generation on earth you care to name, several hundred thousand of them in his eight years. And he found new ways to kill, too, as by creating the world’s first industrial-scale extrajudicial killing operation. Here he signs off on “kill lists,” placed in his Oval Office in-box, to murder people he has never seen, people who enjoy no legal rights or protections. His signed orders are carried out by uniformed thugs working at computer screens in secure basements where they proceed to play computer games with real live humans as their targets, again killing or maiming people they have never seen.
If you ever have wondered where all the enabling workers came from in places like Stalin’s Gulag or Hitler’s concentration camps, well, here is your answer. American itself produces platoons of such people. You could find them working at Guantanamo and in the far-flung string of secret torture facilities the CIA ran for years, and you could find them in places like Fallujah or Samarra or Abu Ghraib, at the CIA’s basement game arcade killing centers, and even all over the streets of America dressed as police who shoot unarmed people every day, sometimes in the back.
Obama has told more lies than anyone could possibly count while conducting so much killing and destruction, and he has done so unblinkingly. If you have ever noticed, government officials doing shameful and illegal things do tend to lie about what it is they are doing. And when Obama wasn’t telling lies, he made secrecy and lack of transparency hallmarks of his administration. He is said to feel very harshly towards whistle-blowers and leakers. He ends his grubby term of office with baseless, self-serving public accusations comparable in every way to those of Senator Joe McCarthy of the early 1950s.
McCarthy, a Republican, was also someone the establishment quietly supported for a time. He served their purposes, until he started weaving dangerously on the road, much like a drunken driver. He departed from the accepted script and began hurling accusations everywhere, and not just accusations about “commies” in the State Department, a place the establishment of the time hated. He came to relish accusing some targets of being sexual perverts, and he attacked new target after new target, threatening the ability of government even to function. For those who don’t know, J. Edgar Hoover, perpetual director of the FBI and an early supporter of McCarthy, was gay and a cross-dresser in private.
Of course, the establishment doesn’t have to worry about the embarrassing excesses of Obama and pompous appointees like James Clapper, as they finally did about those of McCarthy, because this pair of vicious clowns faithfully did just as they were supposed to do, and they are now headed for the exit doors. But they do have to worry about Trump, a man who already has expressed intelligent skepticism over the offerings of Big Intelligence as well as intelligent skepticism about the shameful and immense waste of the Pentagon. Importantly, he has asked why the entire Mideast is on fire and why Russia should be viewed as an enemy. And that is why the likes of Obama and Clapper have taken on a last-minute, rearguard destructive operation on behalf of those fearful of change.
It is certain that Joseph McCarthy’s rise to power could not have happened without important silent support, and his fall, after pretty much disgracing himself, allowed members of the establishment to congratulate themselves in public over protecting America from such demagoguery. All of this, from beginning to end, was complete hypocrisy, the very kind of hypocrisy we have screaming at us today from Washington. A similar claque of powerful people today congratulates themselves on efforts to interfere with the proper and peaceful transition of power to a man they’ve arbitrarily labelled a demagogue.
America’s mainline press has supported the claque by painting Trump as a dangerous demagogue, and I think it is largely over their resentment for his literally hi-jacking a very tired, almost worn-out, Republican Party – which resembled a becalmed antique sailing ship going nowhere – and promising to power it off in new directions. Of course, those loyal to the Clinton-Obama War Party greedily join in the accusations against Trump, seemingly completely innocent or even unaware of behavior ranging from insider plots to steal Hillary’s nomination from a contender to killing a third of a million people in Syria and who knows how many in Libya.
Also, they literally hate the prospect that the War Party, which they have faithfully supported for years, may be crumbling. And, who knows, even the possible further prospect of its demise after recent events revealed it to the public as a mafia-like operation with little respect for democratic process or principles of any kind? Stranger things in politics have happened, and political parties are no more guaranteed eternal life than the crowds at American revival meetings who raise their arms in child-like fantasy towards some huckster-preacher banging the Bible at the podium.
You must always remember, America’s press, which loves to congratulate itself regularly on its journalistic principles, is a mature and in some ways declining industry which is owned, through consolidations, by a very small number of corporate interests who completely support the Neocon Wars and a highly aggressive American foreign policy which puts American corporate interests first, everywhere, and reduces foreign governments, such as those in Europe or Japan, to American satrapies. The dominant views of America’s establishment are not enlightened, not democratic, not open-minded. They are “me-first” and keep competitors abroad under your thumb.
The subject of the Neocon Wars raises the related issue of the Israel Lobby’s influence in American politics. These destructive wars and an associated hyper-aggressive American foreign policy reflect this influence. The term “Neocon” refers to a coterie of influential people in Washington over the last fifteen years or so, people who have openly advocated for a highly aggressive policy of asserting American global dominance, always including a subsidiary aim, expressed with the euphemism, “the birth of a new Middle East.” Eliminating any independent-mindedness in the countries of the Mideast and assuring Israel’s complete imperialistic dominance over the region are the primary goals of the wars and interventions which have cost about two million lives and immense destruction over the Bush-Obama era. The extent of much of this holocaust is allowed to remain hidden from the public by our obliging corporate press, and efforts at explaining the causes has been a great throbbing engine for the production of lies.
But what is the long-term sense of assuring total dominance by eight million people, many of them immigrants, over hundreds of millions of others with centuries of history in the region? Eight million people who have no relationship or common history or culture and views with the great masses over which they are to dominate? An essentially European, urban people who share only a religion – and many of them not even that since Israel has a high proportion of non-believers – with the ancient Hebrews who once lived there? Even that number of eight million is deceptive since it includes over a million Arabs who are accidentally, and not with full equality, technical citizens of Israel.
These terrible Neocon Wars are, in addition, largely responsible for two devastating developments in our time. The first is huge movements of terrified refugees into Europe, millions of them, causing immense difficulties and putting great stress on the very foundations of the EU.
The second is the phenomenon we call international terror, which in fact is a side effect of the Neocon Wars. A huge amount of weaponry has been scattered around in the region by supporters of the American policy. Then, large numbers of mercenaries and rootless, violent people have been deliberately recruited, paid, and supplied to assist in carrying out America’s policy, as in Libya and Syria. Finally, there are large numbers of angry young men now who seek revenge for what has been done to their homes and families. It is a witches’ brew our press deliberately confuses by calling it international terror while constantly promoting the idea of Arabs and Muslims being undependable, unstable, and backward people, a concept welcomed and supported by the residents of the American crusader fortress we call Israel. The entire effort has been a guaranteed formula for instability and human misery.
In reality, what we call international terror is largely the “blowback” of American policies which themselves amount to state terror. Israel, of course, finds comfort in headlines in the West about “international terror” since the fear of that notion helps Americans and Europeans feel a bit more bonded to the fears Israel has always felt in its position as a colony planted by violence in an alien region. Many Israelis undoubtedly feel about their millions of neighbors much the way the Old South’s planters used to feel about the large number of inhabitants in the slave quarters as they went to bed each night with pistols and daggers kept under their pillows. Fear of rebellion was constant and worked like a poisonous substance in the Old South society, even though there was only one rebellion, a small one too, that ever happened. That endless unease explains why Old South society was well known for its inclination to violence, as in the infamous “code of the Old South.” Doesn’t Israel have much the same reputation?
America’s assistance and policies keep a garrison state not only going but growing, growing through the regular seizure of their neighbors’ property, a terrible practice which successive American governments fear addressing. Why? I think the Israel Lobby’s extremely well-organized efforts in American politics explain that. Support Israel, almost unconditionally, and you will receive large campaign donations and positive press coverage (remembering, it is a much-consolidated American press owned by quite a small number of companies). Criticize Israel and your opponents will get the donations and you will get negative press coverage. This has been an on-going pattern since the days when Harry Truman first agreed to recognize Israel, against his private best judgment, at a time when he felt vulnerable because his own re-election was quite uncertain.
While in the short term this massive bloodshed and destruction may be reassuring for Israel, having pretty much everything around it flattened, over the long term I do not see how this can be anything but destabilizing.
Destabilizing just as is the $38 billion, ten-year military-assistance agreement Obama just extended to Israel, a country perfectly able to pay for its own defense. This amount vastly exceeds what the United States gives any other country, even far larger ones in far greater economic need. The amount represents an increase of more than a quarter over the previous decade’s assistance agreement. And Obama gave it without a single condition imposed on Israel at a time when Israel’s government is constantly violating laws, rights, and international norms and agreements. I can’t think of any other place on earth where it is regarded as just fine suddenly to march out and seize someone else’s farms or homes. You cannot build a sound future society for yourself that way, quite apart from the injustice and misery inflicted on others.
Yet, the press often gives the impression that Obama is no friend to Israel. It is well-known that Obama and Netanyahu personally dislike each other intensely, and Netanyahu has gone out of his way to demean or embarrass Obama several times. So, does the immense size of this military-assistance agreement reflect the influence of the Israel Lobby? I think it does, and it all points again to Obama’s total inability in office to fight for anything worth fighting for, such as conditions at least placed on a criminal government being handed a vast fortune, something approaching $500 each year for each citizen of Israel, almost a national basic personal income, if you will, supplied by America.
It is often asserted that the term “Israel Lobby” indicates prejudice, but saying that is just a form of reverse-prejudice, another version of the worn-threadbare accusation that if you criticize Israel, you are, ipso-facto, anti-Semitic. Indeed, this false idea has become as common as rain, and Israel has made considerable diplomatic efforts through the years, with some success, in Europe and in North America to have criticism of Israel criminalized in one fashion or another.
Two distinguished American scholars – John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government – wrote a serious book on the subject of the Israel Lobby, establishing the fact and of its existence beyond question. Others, too, have contributed to understanding the phenomenon.
And we also see, from time to time, events which bring the reality forcefully home. Israeli diplomats in London were just caught on video discussing bringing down British MPs regarded as unfriendly to Israel. Well, talk about direct interference in the internal affairs and elections of others! Newt Gingrich, when last running for his party’s presidential nomination, went around making speeches about how there really was no such thing as a Palestinian after receiving the best part of $20 million dollars in campaign donations from a very wealthy and avid supporter of Israel. Freshmen American Congressmen after an election are routinely “offered” – I put that in quotes because it is not an offer to be declined without political consequences – paid holidays to Israel for indoctrination. Recently, the New York Times confirmed the discovery that all of its stories concerning Israel are routinely passed by the official Israeli Censor before being published. Hillary’s most massive contributors over the years are members in good standing of the Lobby.
One of the most predictable and bordering-on-absurd regular happenings in Washington around this subject is Senator Lindsey Graham suddenly leaping to his feet at any mention of Israel which has even a hint of less-than-fulsome praise or at any proposal to give a less-than-lordly hand-out and going into paroxysms. I’ve asked myself why that would be. Why should Senator Graham, who represents Baptists in South Carolina, choose the role of political pit bull on guard for Israel? Why should he care so intensely and constantly about Israel? Well, I spent a short time reading about him and looking at photos, and I couldn’t help being struck by the distinct possibility of Senator Graham’s being gay.
Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being gay, unless you happen to represent South Carolina, surely one of the more backward and least tolerant states in the Union. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that Senator Graham was caught, years ago, in a “honey trap” by Mossad, and he has been given to understand that compromising photos exist. Today, he is a tireless defender of all things Israeli. It is hard to explain such sustained motivation otherwise. Exactly the same kind of thing happened to the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover early in his career. The Mafia is said to have had compromising photos of him and a male lover, and that old bull dog-faced lawman eventually became notorious for not pursuing the Mafia, allowing it decades of comfortable growth after the repeal of Prohibition.
He always chased instead almost non-existent Communists, keeping the Communist party of America’s ranks packed with undercover FBI Agents and its coffers filled with their expensed donations so that it kept the appearance of something formidable when it wasn’t and served to justify constant FBI budget increases. It might be called the “self-fulfilling prophecy” approach to spying, much like the CIA’s approach to its annual Soviet estimates during the Cold War. The estimates were always wildly inflated, and the CIA always got the budget increases it sought. Security service empires have a way of growing exponentially regardless of the threat level. They share with the military the almost magical ability to be always discovering dire new needs for their services.
The whole set of matters concerning Israel forms a huge indigestible mass at the very center of American politics. Clearly, it is better in every way to halt the Neocon wars. Clearly, also, it is better to force Israel to make peace and define its still undefined borders by accepting the status quo of 1967. Clearly, it is better to have a stable, peaceful region with good long-term relations with the United states. But, these things are easier said than done, and precisely because of the Israel Lobby which always defends Israel, even when it pursues destructive policies and goals, as it so frequently does.
A lot of people hope Trump will halt the stupid wars, and a lot of people, recognizing his political history of being an upstart without a lifetime’s obligations to the usual political crowd, think he may be in a good position to do something important in the Mideast. There is ambiguity here though, owing to some references about moving America’s embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a non-starter for peace, if ever there was one, but the references are also quite possibly a deal-maker lure, for there can be little doubt that Jerusalem will be the capital of both Israel and Palestine in the end.
At least, ending the wars is the sine qua non of anything to be called progress. It is also part of a needed de-escalation in America’s current hyper-aggressive global posture. If you want a better domestic economy, there are few better places to start than paring back the unbelievable waste of great masses of ships and planes and tanks rumbling around everywhere and creating nothing of economic value. Nothing is more wasteful and destructive than maintaining such a military establishment. No one better knows how to waste money than the military with its every movement of a truck or plane costing immensely more than the same act in the civilian economy and none of the movements producing any worthwhile good or service. And the nonsense of keeping Europe and Russia as near-enemies rather than flourishing economic partners only impoverishes everyone.
But it is not sound economic thinking or a sensible approach to world affairs which has governed America’s use of its military for years. It is indulgent, uncaring pride, the arrogance of a wealthy establishment which does what it does simply because it can. It is a formidable barrier against progress which is not going to just fade away. And Trump’s political base, while clearly excluding Neocons, does include the belly-over-the-belt types who, perhaps unthinkingly, like to see Old Glory waving everywhere. So, there is a big set of difficulties for him to work through, and it is not at all clear how he can do so.
The establishment’s waste and arrogance and paying-no-attention to ordinary people really are what motivated a lot of Americans to vote for Trump, especially when the other choice was the very embodiment of those arrogant qualities, annoyingly and patronizingly taking a moment, here and there, to nibble a piece of fried chicken with the folks in some obscure diner. Good photo-op. Americans very much feel they have a national government which behaves more as an occupying power than as a legitimate institution to serve them. And the fact that it spends so much time and money and credibility on trying to control the planet does have a tendency to influence its resources and its very attitudes at home. After all, they are occupied with earth-shattering matters abroad, and you, well, you just don’t count in the scheme of things.
But politics never provides complete change, as some naïve political thinkers like to believe. America remains a huge imperial power essentially run by wealthy people for the interests of wealthy people, and that is not going to change any time soon, but that does not preclude some changes in the way things have been conducted because not all wealthy people see their interests as being identical, and wealthy people making decisions do sometimes make very bad ones. Never mind how the Pentagon and CIA, under Obama and Bush, have stomped their heels into the necks of countless thousands of innocents and wrecked whole societies, just look on the home front at the shabby way corporate giants can behave.
We have Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post and turning it into a more complete propaganda factory than ever, publishing, for example, a scurrilous, libelous list of Internet sites said to be under Russian influence, a list obtained from an “anonymous source” which almost certainly just happen to reside in Langley, Virginia. We have Facebook’s shuffling, t-shirted multi-billionaire appointing himself American Guru of Truth and Fakery in the News. This from the founder of one of the most fake-filled sites on the Internet, notorious previously for fake reader “likes” which affect advertising rates, but, more importantly, an outfit which ceaselessly censors and spies on its users, sucking information from them like a Dyson whirlwind vacuum cleaner to sell to marketers and send along to the security services. Recently, when I use my Google bookmark link for Russia’s Sputnik (formerly, RIA Novosti, The Voice of Russia ), an informative and entertaining site I have checked for years, Google frequently inserts a warning page telling me that it is dangerous to proceed, a page which includes a button marked “Back to Safety,” as though I were approaching a phishing or pornographic site. This from the company that started years ago with a motto, “Do no harm,” but, of course, today Google is a vest-pocket affiliate of CIA, an outfit which does almost nothing but harm. And look at the way Microsoft introduced Windows 10, including violations of fundamental conventions on the Internet such as a pop-up “install” box whose “dismiss command” did precisely the opposite when the “x” was selected, or the way another giant, Apple, has treated some of its customers, including things like “bricking” their costly phones if any effort is made to change or repair anything.
It is simply about the arrogance of power, a phrase the late Senator Fulbright wrote years ago to describe America’s murderous and pointless crusade in Vietnam.
Politics can shake-up a few institutions which need shaking-up, expose a few rotten actors and send them packing, turn around a few dangerous policy paths, and it can grant the people at large a sense of some new possibilities. Sometimes, and this may be one of those times. But the fanatical wing of Trump supporters, especially those on the “alt-right” are almost certain to be disappointed when he does not re-create America the way “accepting Christ” is supposed to re-create a sinner.
Trump seems a man of enough independent-mindedness and independent wealth and seasoned toughness of personality to withstand the assaults he will face from the establishment in Washington. Actually, I shouldn’t say “will” because he is facing waves of them before he even takes the oath, and he is doing admirably well at handling them. There is a claque of very rich and influential people who are not going to disappear into the woodwork despite losing control now. However, he is himself a rich man with a rich man’s interests, and he is not likely to lose his sense of direction in a wave of patriotic fervor which some Americans confuse with religion. He will have done as much as any candidate could if he ends the killing and the mindless interference in the affairs of others and creates some programs which bring jobs to large numbers of now-hopeless Americans. He actually does have a chance at genuine political greatness, but I would not bet the farm on it.
From ancient Hebrew folklore, the dybbuk is a demonic spirit that inhabits a person’s body and soul in order to get what it wants. American foreign policy is endlessly driven to search and destroy imaginary demons: Noriega, Milosevic, Saddam, Ho, Tojo, Nasser, Gaddafi, Lumumba, Castro, Osama, Yanukovych, and a host of others in its hit parade. Obama wouldn’t be fulfilling his duty as warmonger-in-chief if he didn’t submit at least one new person to the pantheon of evil nogoodniks. He found his dybbuk in Vladimir Putin.
Apparently, the Democrats and their partners within the Republican cabal, particularly McCain and Graham, believe that Mr. Putin qualifies as an evil spirit, a super dybbuk, who controls the destiny of American politics – and even the Vermont electrical grid. Anyone who questions this is simply possessed, which obviously includes the soon-to-be White House zombie, Mr. Trump. Playing on the old Western trope of the untamed Russian Bear, Obama has titled the Putin conspiracy Grizzly Steppe. In his last remaining days in office, the American president is hoping to create dramatic memorabilia, such as his expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats just before Christmas, to fill what would otherwise be a rather vacant Obama Library.
Unfortunately for the Cold Warriors, the Kremlin dybbuk responded by simply laughing it off as not worth responding in kind. Focused on his legacy obsession, Obama’s sour grapes is not only about his limited achievements and his party shamelessly losing the election to a crude, narcissistic, and inexperienced child-like politician but also about his loss of face in the Middle East conflict, where the Russians are scoring military and diplomatic points left and right. It’s also about Obama’s last ditch efforts to dispossess Trump of any legitimate power, employing well-tested Cold War propaganda tactics to try to break up any Republican policy consensus.
What is the basis on which liberals insist on depicting the Russians in such dark conspiratorial terms? First, the Cold Warriors assert that Russia is an aggressor, citing its alleged “invasion” of South Ossetia in 2008. On December 26, 2016, Dan Lamothe, a Washington Post national security reporter, and formerly an embedded journalist in Afghanistan, told viewers on C-Span that Russia is an imperialist state. His evidence? He claims that Russia “invaded” Georgia in 2008. Even the New York Times, a reliable echo chamber of the State Department, had to admit on November 6, 2008 that its earlier report (August 8, 2008) that Russia initiated the conflict in that autonomous region was false. There has since been a broad understanding among informed reporters, though not Mr. Lamothe, that it was the president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, who attacked South Ossetia and the Russian peacekeepers who were stationed there to prevent Georgian attacks on nearby Russian towns. Russia chased out the invaders and left South Ossetia with its autonomous status intact.
The leading German weekly, Der Spiegel, reported at the time that, according to the EU investigative mission head, Heidi Tagliavini, “It was Georgia which triggered off the war when it attacked [the South Ossetian capital] Tskhinvali.” Following the Georgian invasion, the pro-US Saakashvili increasingly came under internal criticism for corruption and authoritarianism and fled Georgia in 2013 while under criminal investigation. With the backing of Ukraine’s president, Petro (“Porky”) Poroshenko, Saakashvili briefly served as a failed governor of Odessa. Meanwhile, Georgia has stripped him of his citizenship.
The second broadly cited “evidence” of Putin’s imperialist behavior is the allegation that Russia “invaded” Crimea in 2014. This is another distortion, stripped of historical context, that typically ignores the referendum that Crimea held to separate from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, of which it had been a part for hundreds of years before Khrushchev gifted it to a Ukraine that was then part of the USSR. The circumstances of that secession vote was that it occurred in the aftermath of the US-supported coup earlier in the year that illegally and unconstitutionally deposed Viktor Yanukovych from the presidency and forced him to flee for his life. This began a series of reprisals by the coup regime against the ethnic Russian population, pushed by its neo-Nazi faction – reminiscent of the Bandera fascist movement in World War II that assisted the German military in the murder of millions of Ukraine’s Russians, Jews, Gypsies, and Poles. The March 2014 irredentist vote in favor of reunification with Russia won with overwhelming 97% support, with an 83% turnout. The Obama administration and its legions in the mainstream media, which condemned the “annexation” of Crimea, failed to explain how it was significantly different from the Kosovo secession that the US supported following the massive US and NATO bombardment of Serbia that ended its control over the province. Selective perception indeed.
The Cold Warriors didn’t stop there in outing the dybbuk. The clever demon, they insist, acted as chief opposition researcher for the Trump campaign. Everyone from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, to Obama and Clinton herself, along with their pet media pundits and their yes men (and women) in the CIA, backed the claim that “Russian state actors,” working under orders from no less than the dybbuk himself, hacked Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta emails in order to elect Donald Trump. Putin’s response was that if America’s elections could be so easily manipulated, it must be a banana republic. The Russian hacking story originated with “research” done by a group of private consulting firms attached to the Democratic Party. To date, neither the CIA nor the Obama administration has revealed any real evidence of Russian state involvement in the alleged hacking, nor have the mainstream media. The media’s lapse in not insisting on evidential confirmation raises the question of who are the real hacks?
The MSM won’t let go of the hacking story. Here is a sample of their headlines:
+ New York Times– Spy Agency Consensus Grows that Russia Hacked D.N.C.
+ New York Times – S. Says Russia Directed Hacks to Influence Elections
+ NBC News – Why Experts Are Sure Russia Hacked the DNC Emails
+ Washington Post – Russian Government Hackers Penetrated DNC, Stole Opposition Research on Trump
+ Washington Post – Russian Operation Hacked a Vermont Utility
On the last story, the Post later printed a brief retraction that first appeared within the reprinted original story itself, as if it were maybe a retraction and maybe not. MSM fake news is the new normal. Evgeny Morozov has written: “Democracy may or may not be drowning in fake news, but it’s definitely drowning in elite hypocrisy.”
What happened to the contents of the leaked emails? One of the significant revelations is that Clinton knew while secretary of state (she said so in one of her emails) that the Saudis and Qataris were funding ISIS, and yet she subsequently took millions from them for her personal foundation, which is an extraordinary act of corruption that would be tolerated in few countries that purport to be democratic. She also diverted millions of dollars she raised, supposedly for the benefit of Democratic state parties, to her own campaign. The leaks also showed that the DNC had sabotaged the Bernie Sanders campaign and were planning to further undermine his candidacy by labeling him an “atheist.” The Democrats and the MSM managed to bury these issues with a kill the messenger tactic and blocked the possibility of a serious party house cleaning. Blame the dybbuk.
One of the few politicians unwilling to join the anti-Putin chorus is Donald Trump, making him a prime target of the corporate mainstream media, which have abandoned all pretense of respect for the “canons of journalism.” The exaggerated efforts at depicting Trump as a puppet of Putin (the former “diplomat” Madeleine Albright used the term “useful idiot”) are laughable. But despite lacking any credible evidence, the thesis that Russia conspired to get Trump elected finds almost no resistance in the MSM or in academia. More recently, the press and later the official US intelligence report has launched a jeremiad against the Russian media, particularly RT (Russia Today) for its dissemination of “fake news” (confession: I’ve appeared on its English language TV news reports as a commentator multiple times), aimed at undermining the legitimacy of the democratic system in America. Hillary Clinton made much of the fact that Trump gave an interview on RT, but she neglected to point out that the program was hosted by long-time liberal and talk show pillar of CNN, Larry King. She also made the extremely graceless and undiplomatic comparison of Putin to Hitler, an insult not only to the Russian president but to the memory of the 27 million Russians who died in the ultimate defeat of Naziism.
The implication of these attacks is that Donald Trump is a fifth columnist president. On the other hand, Benjamin Netanyahu (another dybbuk), who openly campaigned for Mitt Romney in 2012 and met with both party candidates on the eve of the final 2016 presidential debate, is off the MSM hook on foreign political interference. And the patriotism of Republicans who brought the apartheider to speak in Congress without the benefit of a White House invitation is also not questioned. Moreover, as the Guardian’s Owen Jones notes, Americans should know something about election meddling “because they’ve been doing it for years.” Among America’s many clients, the Russian autocrat Boris Yeltsin was a beneficiary of US election intervention in the 1990s (with Bill Clinton’s strong support), funding him and supplying a team of American election consultants to get him elected, by hook and by crook, in 1996. Russia’s current prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, at the time a close associate of Yeltsin, admitted that the election outcome was rigged against the real winner, Communist Party leader, Gennady Zyuganov.
All of this renewed Cold War anti-Russia hysteria can be seen to have core purposes. Most conspicuous is the devastating defeat of the Democratic Party in the 2016 elections, losing the White House and failing to take either the House or Senate, but also leaving Republicans fully in charge of 33 state legislatures and, over the past 4 election cycles, net gains of some 1,000 legislative seats, which makes Obama’s legacy look pretty shabby. The Democrats, from Obama on down, have refused to radically rethink their party’s institutional character and instead put failed leader Nancy Pelosi back in charge of the House minority and the Wall Street favorite, Charles Schumer, as head of the Senate Democrats. Strategically, American neocons, including the Clintons, see Russia as obstructing US global ambitions and demand nothing less than Russian obedience to Pax Americana. Third, the mainstream corporate media, especially the Washington Post, owned by the viscerally anti-Trump tycoon, Jeff Bezos, have hitched their wagons to an aggressive US foreign policy and the patronage of global Fortune 500 companies, including the petroleum and defense industries.
Before demanding a Trump exorcism of the dybbuk’s influence, one needs to ask, with a view to recent history, whether Russia is the aggressor that the establishment is making it out to be. Are Russian forces lined up along the US border, north and south, the way NATO is poised for direct intervention with bases across Russia’s “near abroad”? Which country has a history of arming the most repressive, jihadi-supporting states in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar), military dictatorships across Latin America and Asia, apartheid in South Africa and Israel, and regime change across eastern Europe? Which country has starved Cuba of basic necessities for 56 years out of revenge for instituting a socialist government that has won the support of nearly all of Latin America? According to William Blum, since 1945 “the US has attempted to overthrow more than fifty governments, most of which were democratically elected, and grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least thirty countries.”
Are the CIA claims about the Russian takeover of the American election to be believed, the same CIA that lied about WMDs in Iraq (Obama’s intelligence chief, James Clapper, being one of the fabricators of this, among his many official lies) and that country’s import of aluminum tubes for making nuclear centrifuges, Saddam’s involvement in 9/11 and his support for terrorism, Iraq’s alleged purchase of yellowcake uranium powder from Niger, the black site detention and torture chambers set up around the world for kidnapped Arabs and other alleged “terrorists,” Abu Ghraib, and a much longer list of lies and cover-ups serving US imperialism over its 70-year history? Why would political elites and the MSM assume, without seeing a shred of evidence, that the “Company” is telling the truth about the Russia “threat”?
The answer lies in the real objectives of US foreign policy, which are really quite obvious. The new Cold War serves US hegemonic interests in the Middle East, including the elimination of Assad, and in NATO-fortified eastern Europe, and its efforts to neuter Russia as an independent state. Its motives, however, are cloaked, as they always have been, in fake news about Russia, about Syria, and every other state that has pursued either non-alignment or active resistance to US domination. What the naïve believed to be an “information society” has actually matured into a propaganda society, adapting to the informational mode of production to create new platforms and techniques of public perception management. The latest effort in this direction is the Obama administration’s creation of the Orwellian-sounding Global Engagement Center, housed in the State Department, yet another propaganda apparatus (remember Rumsfeld’s bizarre-sounding “Office of Strategic Influence”?) designed to offset the real news in the world media that are critical of US militarist and regime change policies, including RT and Press TV.
Cyber security specialist John McAfee has publicly disputed the Russian hacking claims, arguing that anyone who leaves fingerprints on a hack that tracks him/her as “Russian” isn’t Russian: “if it looks like the Russians did it, then I can guarantee you it was not the Russians.” It should be plain enough that the real hack job is the one that the Democrats, including Obama, used against the Russians to refocus the story away from the party’s and Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy, election manipulations, and self-aggrandizing personal politics.
What the US government should be concerned about is the global perception, based on 2014 Gallup polling, that the United States is regarded as the greatest threat to world peace. The only way this perception will be altered is when the US disembarks from its unipolarism, imperialism, warmongering ambitions and dybbuk-hunting excuses for its foreign and domestic failures as a supposed democratic state. We can only hope that the highly unpredictable Trump tweetocracy keeps the warmongers in their harbors and steers the US in a less aggressive pattern of international behavior that avoids demonizing world leaders who challenge US global hegemony.
Gerald Sussman is a Professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. He is the author of Branding Democracy: US Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe.
Moscow says documents alleging that Russia has compromising information on Donald Trump are a fabrication and a “total bluff.” Russia has never gathered information of this kind on either the US president-elect, or his former rival, Hillary Clinton.
“The Kremlin has no compromising information on Trump. This report does not correspond to reality and is nothing but an absolute fiction,” the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Wednesday.
“This is a total bluff, an absolute fabrication, complete nonsense,” he said.
He reiterated that there is no compromising information on Hillary Clinton either, and that the Russian authorities do not accumulate this type of information.
“Of course not. The Kremlin does not collect compromising information. The Kremlin [and] the Russian president are engaged in building relationships with our foreign partners, firstly – in the interests of the Russian Federation, in the interests of the Russian people, secondly – in the interests of global peace, stability and security,” Peskov said.
On Tuesday, CNN published an article stating that US intelligence handed over a two-page synopsis of classified documents, which included claims that Russian operatives have compromising personal and financial information about Trump, to the president-elect and US President Barack Obama.
The information was included as an annex to a classified version of the report prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election, according to CNN.
Buzzfeed picked up the story, publishing the entire dossier purportedly “prepared for political opponents of Trump by a person who is understood to be a former British intelligence agent.”
The most appalling part of the dossier was the claim that Donald Trump has “personal obsessions and sexual perversion,” including graphic sex acts, and a report that the president-elect once had Russian prostitutes urinate on each other in a hotel bed that the Obamas previously shared.
Apart from sex orgies, the dossier also suggests Russian officials offered the Republican real estate magnate lucrative deals in order to win influence over him ahead of the election.
The story exploded on Twitter with the hashtag #GoldenShowers shooting up the trending charts.
Later in the day, however, an anonymous member of the chatboard on 4chan posted a refutation of the now infamous “golden showers” story, calling it a hoax and “fanfiction.” He or she claimed that several months ago, the story was sent to Republican political strategist Rick Wilson, who proceeded to send it to the CIA, which then put it in their official classified intelligence report on the election.
Moscow considers the scandal a clear attempt to damage relations with Washington and the president-elect personally.
“This is an obvious attempt to harm our bilateral relations,” Peskov said.
“Pulp fiction, that’s what it is called in English. Of course, probably the best way to react would be accordingly – with a certain sense of humor.”
“Although there is a downside – indeed, there are those who are stirring up the hysteria, who go out of their way to maintain this state of a witch-hunt,” he added.
Hillary Clinton’s problems aren’t going away, according to House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz, who has vowed to continue the investigation into her use of a private email server.
The Republican congressman told CNN: “Just because there was a political election doesn’t mean it goes away.”
Chaffetz described Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state as “the largest breach of security in the history of the State Department.”
“It cannot, and should not be repeated ever again,” said Chaffetz, whose committee possesses subpoena power. After reopening the investigation weeks before the presidential election in November, FBI Director James Comey told Congress that they had failed to unearth any new information that would warrant bringing charges against Clinton.
President-elect Donald Trump continuously attacked Clinton over her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state, claiming he would prosecute her if elected. Following his election success, the president-elect changed his attitude toward Clinton, claiming she had already “suffered greatly.”
Chaffetz said his committee would be open to investigating issues arising from Trump’s administration too, claiming his job “is not to be a cheerleader for the president.”
When questioned about possible conflicts of interest arising from Trump’s businesses, Chaffetz admitted that the laws regarding conflicts and the president “should be tightened up,” but declined to comment on specific cases.
Along with the Clinton investigation, the committee will continue other outstanding investigations, including the ATF gunwalking scandal where guns were allowed to be sold to straw buyers to track them.
An investigation into Mylan, the manufacturers of EpiPen whose price increased dramatically will also continue, according to Chaffetz, who said the company “fed us a bunch of bull.”
The main goal of the whole “Russian hacking” US election narrative is a propaganda stunt aimed discrediting Trump by claiming that Russia’s Vladimir Putin personally intervened to discredit Hillary Clinton, retired CIA analyst has told RT.
“It’s designed to smear Trump. Because even the language that developed the notion that Vladimir Putin took it upon himself and instructed the intelligence organs in Russia to go out and discredit Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton didn’t need any help being discredited, she was quite effective at it herself,” Larry Johnson said.
“It was not Vladimir Putin that put the email server in her bathroom,” Johnson added.
“It was not Vladimir Putin who told Hillary Clinton to use a private email account and conduct US-government business over that account and to share classified information. And her repeated lying about it. The fact that you would just focus a story on it somehow makes you an agent of Vladimir Putin. This thing is so ridiculous. It’s amusing we have talk about, but it’s so serious because it shows just the level that the intelligence community in the United States has fallen to. They are playing and interfering in domestic policies,” he said.
The report lacks any factual evidence, because the intelligence services apparently don’t have any, Larry Johnson believes. “I don’t think they’re hiding anything because they don’t have anything. These are ‘or and how’ intelligence estimates as opposed to an intelligence analysis based on fact. There’s no fact underlying this. There are analytical assumptions,” Johnson said.
“You can tell that because whenever they use the language like ‘we assess that’ or ‘we believe that’ or ‘it’s likely that.’ That means they don’t know, because if you knew, you could say … in public ‘according to multiple sources we know that.’ You state facts,” he explained.
“This thing it’s a joke. If I’m a Russian intelligence analyst, with one of your intelligence services, I would be suspicious and think ‘What are the Americans up to? They really can’t be this stupid.’ And let me just reassure the folks on your side of the ledger – yeah, they actually are,” he added.
When the intelligence community raises such assumptions, it should be really confident and unanimous about them. It was, however, only somewhat coordinated within three of the agencies, namely FBI, CIA and NSA, according to Johnson.
“It was only CIA and FBI that ‘strongly agree’ but the NSA, who’s the only one in that group that would actually have the physical evidence of the hacking, if that existed… took a middle of the road position,” Johnson told RT.
The whole situation around the “hacking” report gives an impression of a well-staged spectacle, Johnson believes.
“Yesterday, the Arms Services Committee in the Senate holds a hearing alleging Russian hacking, about when hacks took place domestically in the United States and that Arms Services has no jurisdiction over intel side. That was entirely a propaganda ploy, and not a single journalist in the major outlets over here raised questions about that, it was an observed performance,” Johnson said.
The attack on Russian media and RT specifically, undertaken in the report despite its theme supposedly being the “hacking,” is quite understandable, according to Johnson, and emanates from hostility toward actually objective news coverage and jealousy towards RT being capable of such journalism.
“Because you’re actually a more objective news channel than Fox, CNN, MSNBC, the main stream media here in this country. I say that sincerely. I was a Fox New analyst, I’ve been on ABC, CBS, NBC, all of the cable channels … and I discovered that the kind of bias and propaganda they’ re accusing RT of engaging in is in fact what they themselves are doing.“
Repeating an accusation over and over again is not evidence that the accused is guilty, no matter how much “confidence” the accuser asserts about the conclusion. Nor is it evidence just to suggest that someone has a motive for doing something. Many conspiracy theories are built on the notion of “cui bono” – who benefits – without following up the supposed motive with facts.
But that is essentially what the U.S. intelligence community has done regarding the dangerous accusation that Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated a covert information campaign to influence the outcome of the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election in favor of Republican Donald Trump.
Just a day after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper vowed to go to the greatest possible lengths to supply the public with the evidence behind the accusations, his office released a 25-page report that contained no direct evidence that Russia delivered hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks.
The DNI report amounted to a compendium of reasons to suspect that Russia was the source of the information – built largely on the argument that Russia had a motive for doing so because of its disdain for Democratic nominee Clinton and the potential for friendlier relations with Republican nominee Trump.
But the case, as presented, is one-sided and lacks any actual proof. Further, the continued use of the word “assesses” – as in the U.S. intelligence community “assesses” that Russia is guilty – suggests that the underlying classified information also may be less than conclusive because, in intelligence-world-speak, “assesses” often means “guesses.”
The DNI report admits as much, saying, “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”
But the report’s assessment is more than just a reasonable judgment based on a body of incomplete information. It is tendentious in that it only lays out the case for believing in Russia’s guilt, not reasons for doubting that guilt.
A Risky Bet
For instance, while it is true that many Russian officials, including President Putin, considered Clinton to be a threat to worsen the already frayed relationship between the two nuclear superpowers, the report ignores the downside for Russia trying to interfere with the U.S. election campaign and then failing to stop Clinton, which looked like the most likely outcome until Election Night.
If Russia had accessed the DNC and Podesta emails and slipped them to WikiLeaks for publication, Putin would have to think that the National Security Agency, with its exceptional ability to track electronic communications around the world, might well have detected the maneuver and would have informed Clinton.
So, on top of Clinton’s well-known hawkishness, Putin would have risked handing the expected incoming president a personal reason to take revenge on him and his country. Historically, Russia has been very circumspect in such situations, usually holding its intelligence collections for internal purposes only, not sharing them with the public.
While it is conceivable that Putin decided to take this extraordinary risk in this case – despite the widely held view that Clinton was a shoo-in to defeat Trump – an objective report would have examined this counter argument for him not doing so.
But the DNI report was not driven by a desire to be evenhanded; it is, in effect, a prosecutor’s brief, albeit one that lacks any real evidence that the accused is guilty.
Further undercutting the credibility of the DNI report is that it includes a seven-page appendix, dating from 2012, that is an argumentative attack on RT, the Russian government-backed television network, which is accused of portraying “the US electoral process as undemocratic.”
The proof for that accusation includes RT’s articles on “voting machine vulnerabilities” although virtually every major U.S. news organizations has run similar stories, including some during the last campaign on the feasibility of Russia hacking into the actual voting process, something that even U.S. intelligence says didn’t happen.
The reports adds that further undermining Americans’ faith in the U.S. democratic process, “RT broadcast, hosted and advertised third-party candidate debates.” Apparently, the DNI’s point is that showing Americans that there are choices beyond the two big parties is somehow seditious.
“The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham,’” the report said. Yet, polls have shown that large numbers of Americans would prefer more choices than the usual two candidates and, indeed, most Western democracies have multiple parties, So, the implicit RT criticism of the U.S. political process is certainly not out of the ordinary.
The report also takes RT to task for covering the Occupy Wall Street movement and for reporting on the environmental dangers from “fracking,” topics cited as further proof that the Russian government was using RT to weaken U.S. public support for Washington’s policies (although, again, these are topics of genuine public interest).
Behind the Curtain
Though it’s impossible for an average U.S. citizen to know precisely what the U.S. intelligence community may have in its secret files, some former NSA officials who are familiar with the agency’s eavesdropping capabilities say Washington’s lack of certainty suggests that the NSA does not possess such evidence.
For instance, that’s the view of William Binney, who retired as NSA’s technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and who created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.
Binney, in an article co-written with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, said, “With respect to the alleged interference by Russia and WikiLeaks in the U.S. election, it is a major mystery why U.S. intelligence feels it must rely on ‘circumstantial evidence,’ when it has NSA’s vacuum cleaner sucking up hard evidence galore. What we know of NSA’s capabilities shows that the email disclosures were from leaking, not hacking.”
There is also the fact that both WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and one of his associates, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, have denied that the purloined emails came from the Russian government. Going further, Murray has suggested that there were two separate sources, the DNC material coming from a disgruntled Democrat and the Podesta emails coming from possibly a U.S. intelligence source, since the Podesta Group represents Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments.
In response, Clapper and other U.S. government officials have sought to disparage Assange’s credibility, including Clapper’s Senate testimony on Thursday gratuitously alluding to sexual assault allegations against Assange in Sweden.
However, Clapper’s own credibility is suspect in a more relevant way. In 2013, he gave false testimony to Congress regarding the extent of the NSA’s collection of data on Americans. Clapper’s deception was revealed only when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the NSA program to the press, causing Clapper to apologize for his “clearly erroneous” testimony.
A History of Politicization
The U.S. intelligence community’s handling of the Russian “hack” story also must be viewed in the historical context of the CIA’s “politicization” over the past several decades.
U.S. intelligence analysts, such as senior Russia expert Melvin A. Goodman, have described in detail both in books and in congressional testimony how the old tradition of objective CIA analysis was broken down in the 1980s.
At the time, the Reagan administration wanted to justify a massive arms buildup, so CIA Director William Casey and his pliant deputy, Robert Gates, oversaw the creation of inflammatory assessments on Soviet intentions and Moscow’s alleged role in international terrorism, including the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.
Besides representing “politicized” intelligence at its worst, these analyses became the bureaucratic battleground on which old-line analysts who still insisted on presenting the facts to the president whether he liked them or not were routed and replaced by a new generation of yes men.
The relevant point is that the U.S. intelligence community has never been repaired, in part because the yes men gave presidents of both parties what they wanted. Rather than challenging a president’s policies, this new generation mostly fashioned their reports to support those policies.
The bipartisan nature of this corruption is best illustrated by the role played by CIA Director George Tenet, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton but stayed on and helped President George W. Bush arrange his “slam dunk” case for convincing the American people that Iraq possessed caches of WMD, thus justifying Bush’s 2003 invasion.
There was the one notable case of intelligence analysts standing up to Bush in a 2007 assessment that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program, but that was more an anomaly – resulting from the acute embarrassment over the Iraq WMD fiasco – than a change in pattern.
Presidents of both parties have learned that it makes their lives easier if the U.S. intelligence community is generating “intelligence” that supports what they want to do, rather than letting the facts get in the way.
The current case of the alleged Russian “hack” should be viewed in this context: President Obama considers Trump’s election a threat to his policies, both foreign and domestic. So, it’s only logical that Obama would want to weaken and discredit Trump before he takes office.
That doesn’t mean that the Russians are innocent, but it does justify a healthy dose of skepticism to the assessments by Obama’s senior intelligence officials.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
The mainstream media’s narrative that the Russian government interfered with the United States election, and that this interference invalidated, or at least tainted, Trump’s election has culminated in President Obama taking a series of measures against Russia, which consist of: imposing sanctions on the GRU and the FSB (the two major Russian intelligence organizations), four officers of the GRU, and two Russian individuals who allegedly used “cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information;” expelling 35 diplomats and intelligence officials; and closing two Russian compounds in Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Long Island, New York. These actions were said to have been taken not only because of Russian interference in the election but for a number of other instances of Russian malfeasance that go back in time and are unrelated to alleged election interference. And there was no evidence provided that showed, or even claimed to show, that the particular individuals and entities covered by these measures had anything to do with the alleged election interference.
Like other common memes—such as anti-Semitism, racism, and sexism—used to silence debate, the exact meaning of Russian interference in the election is unclear—and Obama’s inclusion of a number of extraneous issues in his explanation for taking retaliatory action against Russia muddles the issue even more. The reference to Russian interference in the election includes a composite of alleged Russian misdeeds—“fake news,” computer hacking, and manipulating voting machines  –which are usually lumped together but are actually quite different and should be analyzed separately since the combination approach only serves to obfuscate the issue. Of course—and this probably would not be shocking to most readers of this essay—many of those who promote the idea of Russian culpability are not really concerned about pursuing a Socratic search for truth but instead want to anathematize Putin’s Russia and/or delegitimize Trump’s election victory.
First, let me take care of the most extreme claim—that Russian hackers manipulated election results to make Trump president. This would be a nearly impossible task since voting machines are not attached to the Internet, and it was never pointed out how the Russians could do this on any significant scale. Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton was urged by “a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers” to demand a recount in three states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—in which Clinton seemed to be slightly ahead in pre-election polls but which were won by Trump by narrow margins. The group claimed to have statistical evidence that the vote had been altered. The basis of this claim, however, was quite flimsy since it simply rested on an analysis that showed that in Wisconsin counties with electronic voting machines, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes than in counties with paper ballots or optical scanners. It was then assumed that the same thing could have occurred in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
There was a recount in Wisconsin in which Trump increased his victory margin by 131 votes; a total of 2.976 million ballots were cast. The recount was requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein who covered the estimated $3.5 million cost of the endeavor. Similar efforts by Stein to get recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania were blocked in the state courts because of her lack of standing by the laws of those states—not having any chance of winning herself, she could not be considered an “aggrieved party.” Hillary Clinton’s campaign did not make official efforts to get recounts in any states. With Trump’s victory in Wisconsin surviving the recount, he had garnered a majority of the electoral votes, which would make him President unless there were a far higher number of faithless electors than turned out to be the case. Nonetheless, half of Clinton’s voters still think Russia hacked the election day voting.
Now to consider the ramifications of Russia’s hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and the reception and release to the public of this Russian-hacked information by WikiLeaks. While this is assumed to be incontestably true by the mainstream media, neither one of these allegations is rock solid at the moment. The alleged consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies is that there is sufficient evidence that Russia hacked the aforementioned emails, but the evidence for this has not been made available to the public nor is there proof that WikiLeaks relied on emails derived from Russian hacks. Given the fact that America’s intelligence agencies are not noted for being honest with the public, one would think that the mainstream media would give some attention to the critics of the dominant narrative.
Reacting to these allegations, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, claims that his organization did not release any information provided to it by Russia or a Russian proxy. And Assange does have a vested interest in being truthful in order to maintain WikiLeaks’ credibility, which has so far been impeccable. Confirming Assange’s contention is Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of Assange, though not an official member of the WikiLeaks staff. Murray stated: “As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks.” He goes on to claim: “Now both Julian Assange and I have stated definitively the leak does not come from Russia. Do we credibly have access? Yes, very obviously. Very, very few people can be said to definitely have access to the source of the leak. The people saying it is not Russia are those who do have access. After access, you consider truthfulness. Do Julian Assange and I have a reputation for truthfulness? Well in 10 years not one of the tens of thousands of documents WikiLeaks has released has had its authenticity successfully challenged. As for me, I have a reputation for inconvenient truth telling.” Murray alleges that the two sets of emails—from the DNC and from Podesta–came from American insiders but from different sources.
Obviously, the security agencies should provide the public with detailed evidence and describe the actual sources. As Pat Buchanan suggests: “The CIA director and his deputies should be made to testify under oath, not only as to what they know about Russia’s role in the WikiLeaks email dumps but also about who inside the agency is behind the leaks to The Washington Post designed to put a cloud over the Trump presidency before it begins.”
Now it should be pointed out that the actual content of the emails released by WikiLeaks, which the U.S. claims to have been obtained by Russian hacking, has not been falsified. The information harmful to Hillary Clinton included the DNC’s behind-the-scenes support for her over Bernie Sanders (which included then DNC chair Donna Brazile’s feeding answers to Clinton before the latter’s debate with Bernie Sanders); Clinton’s unpublicized paid speeches—on foreign policy and the economy– to wealthy business executives and bankers revealing views diametrically opposed to her campaign positions; the collusion of mainstream media reporters with the DNC. For example, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank requested and got the DNC to do the research for a negative column he wrote about Trump.
If the WikiLeaks information were completely fallacious, it would not have been derived from hacking or even from leaks, but simply fabricated. Nonetheless, this defense is being made. The logical form of this argument is that hacking took place but that the released emails were doctored to make them damaging. But this is based on the fact that it is possible to doctor emails, rather than any evidence that the WikiLeaks’ emails were altered. The assumption being made was that Russia was capable of doctoring the emails, therefore, the emails must be doctored. For example, Jamie Winterton, director of strategy for Arizona State University’s Global Security Initiative, was quoted as saying: “I would be shocked if the emails weren’t altered,” and went on to say that Russia was well-known to have used this technique in the past.ix Similarly, Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin asserted: “We are not going to confirm the authenticity of stolen documents released by Julian Assange, who has made no secret of his desire to damage Hillary Clinton.” He referred to doctored emails that supposedly appeared on websites linked to Russian intelligence as proof that “documents can be faked as part of a sophisticated Russian misinformation campaign,” although Caplin did not say that the emails concerning Clinton’s speeches had been faked.x According to James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the spreading of false information by intelligence services “is a technique that goes back to Tsarist times.” Among his examples, he referred to the Soviet-spread rumor that the U.S. government developed the AIDS virus. Needless to say, this, too, had nothing to do with WikiLeaks much less the emails it released on Clinton and the DNC.
MSNBC’s terrorist analyst and a former intelligence officer, Malcolm Nance, tweeted a message, shortly after WikiLeaks’ October release of some of Podesta’s emails, that these emails were “riddled with obvious forgeries,” without ever providing evidence. If any emails released by WikiLeaks were “obvious forgeries,” it would seem quite easy for U.S. intelligence agencies to point this out without using any secret, super-high tech methods, and thus substantiate the case being made.
Interestingly, Nance was also quoted as taking the opposite position: “We have no way of knowing whether this is real or not unless Hillary Clinton goes through everything they’ve said and comes out and says it cross-correlates and this is true.” Here, Nance seems to be saying that WikiLeaks’ could only be considered accurate if Hillary would show this to be the case. Since Hillary is not going to indict herself, this is not going to happen. However, the burden of proof should be on those who claim that the emails were altered to point out the discrepancies between the emails released by WikiLeaks and the DNC’s and Podesta’s actual emails. It would not be necessary to go through the whole tranche but simply focus on the detrimental emails. If this is not done, then claims that the WikiLeaks provides specious information should be dropped. So far, however, there seems to be little effort to show that the damaging information was untrue.
Actually, it seems that much of the hostility to the WikiLeaks’ information has little to do with it being false but rather that the emails were pilfered and made public. Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from California, who serves as the ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Jane Harman, who is currently the president of the Wilson Center and a former ranking Democratic member of the same House committee state: “Russia’s theft and strategic leaking of emails and documents from the Democratic Party and other officials present a challenge to the U.S. political system unlike anything we’ve experienced.” Note that these writers charge Russia not only with illicitly obtaining the emails but also of “strategic leaking,” which was obviously the work of WikiLeaks, and for which no evidence whatsoever exists that Russia determined when the materials would be leaked.
The New York Times Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes that “[t]he pro-Putin tilt of Mr. Trump and his advisers was obvious months before the election . . . . By midsummer the close relationship between WikiLeaks and Russian intelligence was also obvious, as was the site’s growing alignment with white nationalists.” Krugman goes on to blame the mainstream media for giving attention to WikiLeaks. “Leaked emails, which everyone knew were probably the product of Russian hacking, were breathlessly reported as shocking revelations, even when they mostly revealed nothing more than the fact that Democrats are people.” However, if nothing harmful was revealed, it is hard to maintain that Russian hacking had a significant effect on the election. If harm were done to the Democrats, it was presumably caused by the media, which falsely implied that serious revelations were being made by WikiLeaks.
Referring to Putin and the Russian hackers, Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson contends: “Their hacking — as interpreted by both the CIA and the FBI — qualifies as state-sponsored aggression. It does jeopardize our way of life. It undermines the integrity of our political institutions and popular faith in them. More than this, it warns us that our physical safety and security are at risk. Hostile hackers can hijack power grids, communication networks, transportation systems and much more.” Even criticizing the position of the CIA—an institution American liberals, not too long ago, looked upon as a force for evil–is now considered a threat to American democracy. As establishment liberal E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post pontificates: “That Trump would happily trash our own CIA to get Putin off the hook is disturbing enough . . . . That he would ignore the risks our intelligence agents take on so many fronts to protect us is outrageous.
Michael Daly of the liberal millennials–oriented Daily Beast writes: “Russians went from simply gathering our secrets to then making them public in such a way as to influence American public opinion and therefore the course of our democracy. Putin must marvel at the fervently patriotic, flag-waving Americans who shrug at the near certainty that a foreign power had subverted the electoral process that is at the heart of America’s true greatness.”
It is not apparent how receiving accurate information regarding political issues—which is what WikiLeaks seems to have provided—could really have a negative impact on American democracy; rather it would seem that it would actually improve democracy. The purpose of Voice of America is supposed to be to provide such information to foreign countries and especially to those where the governments prevent the facts from reaching their inhabitants. The idea is that people in foreign countries should know the truth about their own government and about other governments, as well.
The Washington Post was enraged when, in 2015, Russia shut down the U.S. government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), relying on a law that “bans groups from abroad who are deemed a ‘threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.’” The Washington Post wrote: “The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED’s grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin’s ramparts.” Presumably, such things as “transparency in public affairs,” fighting corruption, and “freedom of information,” are vital for creating a “healthy democracy” in Russia when promoted by a foreign organization but are a grave danger to democracy if a foreign entity should try to do the same thing in the United States.
The mainstream media has acted as if Russian efforts to influence American policy are something novel, that this had never happened to the U.S. before. And “policy” is used here rather than “election” because affecting policy is apparently Putin’s motive, not simply putting Trump in the White House with U.S. policy toward Russian unchanged. It is quite understandable that Putin would view Trump as a better President from the standpoint of Russian interests than Hillary Clinton since Trump advocated improving relations with Russia while Clinton was oriented toward exacerbating them.
While the mainstream media implies that what Russia was allegedly attempting to do had never happened before, foreign countries had actually tried to shape American policies since the George Washington administration  when the ambassador from revolutionary France, popularly known as Citizen Genet, came to the United States in 1793 and sought to generate popular support to get the United States to modify its strict neutrality policy to one that would be helpful to France in its war with Great Britain. Genet even commissioned privateers to attack British shipping. Ultimately, however, President Washington and his Cabinet, angered by Genet’s activities that violated American sovereignty, demanded his recall. Genet simultaneously fell from favor in France as more radical Jacobins led by Robespierre took power and fearing he might face the guillotine if he returned to France, Genet requested and received asylum in the United States.
In 1867-1868, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. resorted to bribing lobbyists, newspapers, and members of Congress in order to make sure that the U.S. Congress would provide the funds for the treaty already signed by Secretary of State Seward (and approved by the Senate) to purchase Alaska.
In World War I both Germany and England were relying heavily on propaganda in the U.S.—the British goal to get the U.S. into the war on its side; the German goal to keep the U.S. out of the war. In 1917, Britain Illicitly intercepted and decoded what became known as the Zimmerman Telegram, which was a message from the German foreign ministry to its ambassador in Mexico instructing him to inform the Mexican government that Germany would, if the United States joined the war against it, support a Mexican effort to regain its former territory taken by the United States (though technically purchased) as a result of the Mexican-American War. After Britain turned the information over to the U.S. government, the publication of the telegram in March 1917 may have played a supporting role in America’s entrance into World War I in April 1917.
In World War II, British intelligence closely cooperated with the Roosevelt administration and the American interventionists—actually setting up pro-interventionist front groups–and engaged in efforts to destroy the non-interventionists. Soviet agents were also trying to shape American foreign policy during World War II and its aftermath in order to advance the interests of Stalinist Russia. And Israel (and the Zionist agency before Israel’s founding) and its American supporters have played a role in shaping America’s policy in the Middle East policy since World War I.
Finally, let us explore the reasons for Obama’s retaliation against the alleged Russian interference in the election, which included activities—mostly, but not only, involving spying—that had been going on for years. An obvious question is: why didn’t Obama take action earlier?
It should be pointed out that it is commonplace for spies to pose as diplomats. And it is likewise commonplace that a host country does nothing to stop the spying unless it goes too far or if the host country wants to send a message that it is concerned about some other matter and does so by expelling officials for spying who were not necessarily involved in the issue of concern. Obama’s expulsion edict fit the second category and was meant to show the U.S. government’s ire regarding the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election. Therefore, Obama’s retaliation against individuals and entities not involved in the matter of concern was not unconventional and if there had not been any alleged interference in the U.S. election, they likely would have been left alone.
Furthermore, it would appear that Obama chose to take action for political reasons: in order to appeal to the Democratic base and the mainstream media, afflicted as those two groups are by Trump Derangement Syndrome, and also to hardline opponents of Russia who loom large in the Republican Party and have become a significant force among the Democratic elite (e.g. Brookings Institution).
In making major foreign policy decisions, Obama’s modus operandi has often been one of reacting to pressure—usually, but not always, from elite opinion—which has caused him to take positions contrary to his own, often more non-interventionist and pacific, inclination. This seems to have been the case regarding Obama’s policy toward Libya, Syria, Israel (his obeisance to the Israel Lobby until the very end of his presidency), and even Russia, where he initially sought a “reset” to achieve friendlier relations.
Although it has been claimed that Obama had entertained issuing punitive measures against Russia before the election, but opted against this to avoid possible Russian retaliation that could affect the voting, it is not apparent that Obama would have taken comparable retaliatory action if Clinton had won a clear-cut electoral victory. While Republican hardliners, such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, might have wanted such action, the Democrats would be satisfied with their victory, and Clinton and her foreign policy advisers, even though they might be anti-Putin, would not want their hands tied by such measures. While Obama is not a fan of Hillary Clinton, he did want her to be his successor, since that would have made him look good; there would have been no reason to antagonize her, her supporters, or the Democratic Party elite.
By penalizing Russia, Obama makes it difficult for President Trump to establish a more cordial relationship with Russia. There is extensive support in Congress from both Democrats and Republicans for taking strong action against Russia. As the title of an article in Roll Call, which focuses on the activities of the U.S. Congress , puts it: “Obama’s Russia Sanctions Put Trump, Hill GOP on Collision Course.” The author of this article, John T. Bennett, opines that Trump’s opposition to Obama’s retaliation against Russia “will immediately pit him against the hawkish wing of the Republican party.”
While Trump could overturn Obama’s anti-Russian measures, which are based on an executive order, his doing so would almost certainly be countered by legislation put forth by Democrats and some Republicans—the latter led by McCain and Graham, who have already said that they will introduce Russian sanction legislation. In the past few years, an overwhelming majority in Congress has voted for sanctions legislation against Russia, which makes it likely that there would be a veto-proof majority to stymie Trump on this issue.
To conclude, the Russian interference narrative did not serve to prevent Trump from becoming president but it does seem that it will cause serious problems for his presidency and for American foreign relations as well, as America will drift further into Cold War II, which is something that Trump, if not facing obstruction, could have possibly prevented.
 Robert Parry, “Details Still Lacking on Russian ‘Hack,’” Consortium News, December 29, 2016, https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/29/details-still-lacking-on-russian-hack/
 Craig Timberg, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” Washington Post, November 24, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html?utm_term=.370a24364c83
 Jennifer Scholtes , “DHS secretary: Ballot counts are largely safe from cyberattack,” Politico, September 8, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/ballot-counts-cyberattack-jeh-johnson-227891; John Roberts, “5 Reasons Why Hackers Can’t Rig the U.S. Election,” Fortune, August 10, 2016, http://fortune.com/2016/08/09/voting-machines-hackers/
 Gabriel Sherman, “Experts Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results in 3 Swing States,” Daily Intelligencer,
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/activists-urge-hillary-clinton-to-challenge-election-results.html; Bruce Schneier, “By November, Russian hackers could target voting machines,” Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/07/27/by-november-russian-hackers-could-target-voting-machines/?utm_term=.7b415d99cbf3
 Matthew DeFour, “Completed Wisconsin recount widens Donald Trump’s lead by 131 votes,” Wisconsin State Journal, December 13, 2016, http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/completed-wisconsin-recount-widens-donald-trump-s-lead-by-votes/article_3f61c6ac-5b18-5c27-bf38-e537146bbcdd.html
 Kathy Frankovic, “Belief in conspiracy theories depends largely on which side of the spectrum you fall on,” Economist/YouGov Poll, December 27, 2016, https://today.yougov.com/news/2016/12/27/belief-conspiracies-largely-depends-political-iden/
 Craig Murray, “The CIA’s Absence of Conviction,” CraigMurray.org, December 11, 2016, https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/12/cias-absence-conviction/ Murray was also quoted by the Daily Mail as saying he flew to Washington for a clandestine handoff of a “package” in September.
Alana Goodman, “Exclusive: Ex-British ambassador who is now a WikiLeaks operative claims Russia did NOT provide Clinton emails – they were handed over to him at a D.C. park by an intermediary for ‘disgusted’ Democratic whistleblower,” Daily Mail, December 14, 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4034038/Ex-British-ambassador-WikiLeaks-operative-claims-Russia-did-NOT-provide-Clinton-emails-handed-D-C-park-intermediary-disgusted-Democratic-insiders.html; However, in an interview for the Scott Horton Show, Murray says that while he went to Washington in regard to this issue, he did not personally receive the emails. Scott Horton Show, December 13, 2016, https://www.libertarianinstitute.org/scotthortonshow/121316-craig-murray-dnc-podesta-emails-leaked-americans-not-hacked-russia/
 Pat Buchanan, “The Real Saboteurs of a Trump Foreign Policy,” Unz Review, December 20, 2016, http://www.unz.com/pbuchanan/the-real-saboteurs-of-a-trump-foreign-policy/?highlight=Wikileaks
 Linda Qiu and Lauren Carroll, “Were the Clinton Campaign Emails Leaked by WikiLeaks Doctored?,”
Punditfact.com, October 23, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/10/23/were-the-clinton-campaign-emails-leaked-by-wikileaks-doctored.html
 Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, “Hacked emails appear to reveal excerpts of speech transcripts Clinton refused to release,” Washington Post, October 7, 2016,
 Tim Starks and Eric Geller, “Russians, lies and WikiLeaks,” Politico, October 12, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/wikileaks-russia-hillary-clinton-campaign-democrats-229707
 Glenn Greenwald. “In the Democratic Echo Chamber, Inconvenient Truths Are Recast as Putin Plots,” The Intercept, October 11, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/10/11/in-the-democratic-echo-chamber-inconvenient-truths-are-recast-as-putin-plots/
 Tim Starks and Eric Geller, “Russians, lies and WikiLeaks,” Politico, October 12, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/wikileaks-russia-hillary-clinton-campaign-democrats-229707
 See for instance: Mike Masnick, “The Clinton Campaign Should Stop Denying That The WikiLeaks Emails Are Valid; They Are And They’re Real,” Tech Dirt, October 25, 2016, https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20161024/22533835878/clinton-campaign-should-stop-denying-that-wikileaks-emails-are-valid-they-are-theyre-real.shtml; Blake Hounshell, “Is this what Hillary Clinton really thinks about the world?,” Politico, October 12, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/hillary-clinton-worldview-leaked-speech-excerpts-229704
 Adam Schiff and Jane Harman, “Russia attacked our democracy. That demands intense review by Congress,” Washington Post, December 23, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/russia-attacked-our-democracy-that-demands-intense-review-by-congress/2016/12/23/291be72c-c865-11e6-8bee-54e800ef2a63_story.html?utm_term=.708975e1d8f5
 Paul Krugman, “Useful Idiots Galore,” New York Times, December 16, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/16/opinion/useful-idiots-galore.html
 Robert J. Samuelson, “Vladimir Putin may have done us a big favor,” Washington Post, December 25, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/opinions/vladimir-putin-may-have-done-us-a-big-favor/2016/12/25/1d5c2950-c93d-11e6-bf4b-2c064d32a4bf_story.html?outputType=accessibility&nid=menu_nav_accessibilityforscreenreader
 E. J. Dionne, “Why a Trump presidency inspires fear,” Washington Post, December 12, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-a-trump-presidency-inspires-fear/2016/12/11/3b2259f8-bfda-11e6-897f-918837dae0ae_story.html?utm_term=.a0c9fedbf9eb
 Michael Daly, “Russian Spies, Mission Accomplished, Get the Boot From Their Long Island Estate,” Daily Beast, December 31, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/31/russian-spies-mission-accomplished-get-the-boot-from-their-long-island-estate.html
 Editorial Board, “Vladimir Putin is suffocating his own nation,” Washington Post, July 28, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/vladimir-putin-is-suffocating-his-own-nation/2015/07/28/3b27ae8e-3562-11e5-adf6-7227f3b7b338_story.html?utm_term=.c095ffa3b331
 Since the British navy controlled the seas, it would have been virtually impossible for Germany to provide military aid to Mexico. Germany, however, had been thinking along these lines and actually taking some actions in line with this view. See Friedrich Katz, The Secret War in Mexico: Europe, the United States and the Mexican Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981)
 Stephen J. Sniegoski, “The Conquest of America by Britain,” (A Review of Thomas E. Mahl, Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939–1944 Brassey’s, Washington, DC, 1998), Unz Review, January 11, 2000, http://www.unz.com/article/the-conquest-of-the-united-states-by-britain/
 Stephen J. Sniegoski, “The Reality of Red Subversion,” Unz Review, September 1, 2003, http://www.unz.com/article/the-reality-of-red-subversion/
 Stephen J. Sniegoski, “Review: ‘Against Our Better Judgment’–The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, by Alison Weir,” Unz Review, November 14, 2016, http://www.unz.com/article/review-against-our-better-judgment/
 Jeremy Stahl, “Obama Issues Sweeping Sanctions Against Russia Over Election Hacks,” Slate (blog), December 29, 2016, http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/12/29/obama_issues_sweeping_sanctions_against_russia_over_election_hacks.html; David E. Sanger, “Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking,” New York Times, December 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/29/us/politics/russia-election-hacking-sanctions.html
 Trump derangement syndrome–A mental dysfunction causing those detractors with hateful thoughts and feelings about Donald Trump to go unhinged. Urban Dictionary, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Trump%20Derangement%20Syndrome
 William M. Arkin, Ken Dilanian, Robert Windrem and Cynthia McFadden, “Why Didn’t Obama Do More About Russian Election Hack?,” NBC News, December 16, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/why-didnt-obama-do-more-about-russian-election-hack-n696701
 John T. Bennett, “Obama’s Russia Sanctions Put Trump, Hill GOP on Collision Course,” Roll Call, December 29, 2017, http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/obamas-russia-sanctions-put-trump-hill-gop-collision-course; David Klion, “Obama’s response to Russia is likely to put Trump at odds with the Republican Party,” Business Insider, December 30, 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/obamas-response-to-russia-to-put-trump-at-odds-with-gop-2016-12?utm_source=feedburner&%3Butm_medium=referral&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+businessinsider+(Business+Insider); Justin Wright, “Obama’s Russia sanctions put Hill Republicans in a box,” Politico, December 30, 2016, http://www.politico.eu/article/russia-sanctions-hill-republicans-obama-trump/ ; Ben Wolfgang, “Donald Trump faces bipartisan push to establish ‘boundaries’ with Vladimir Putin, Russia,” Washington Times, January 1, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/1/donald-trump-urged-to-establish-boundaries-with-vl/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS
 Zeeshan Aleem, “Trump can lift some Russia sanctions. But it won’t be easy,” Vox, December 23, 2017, http://www.vox.com/world/2016/12/23/14028546/trump-lift-russia-sanctions
From the post: Who Benefits from War with Russia?
The rising hysteria about Russia is best understood as fulfilling two needs for Official Washington: the Military Industrial Complex’s transitioning from the “war on terror” to a more lucrative “new cold war” – and blunting the threat that a President Trump poses to the neoconservative/liberal-interventionist foreign-policy establishment.
By hyping the Russian “threat,” the neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks, who include much of the mainstream U.S. news media, can guarantee bigger military budgets from Congress. The hype also sets in motion a blocking maneuver to impinge on any significant change in direction for U.S. foreign policy under Trump.
After spending some time watching the recently concluded intelligence briefing to the U.S. Senate, I’ve concluded it to be one of the most disturbing and ominous things I can remember. I have several takeaways from what I saw, and none of them are good. […]
One of the main reasons I opposed Hillary Clinton so vehemently, was I felt she embodied the neocon, neoliberal, military-intelligence-indsutrial complex’s burning desire for a global confrontation with Russia, as well as continued disastrous imperial adventures all over the world. Many of us hoped that with her loss, cooler heads would prevail and the American public might receive a much needed respite from never-ending war. This has not happened.
If anything, those in the Hillary camp have become even more aggressive and unhinged in their bloodlust, and appear willing to do “whatever it takes” to start a fight that will result in unimaginable devastation for the American public. This has become such an overwhelming concern to me, I felt the need to discuss what those of us who wish to avoid this outcome must do.
First, we need to understand the motivation of those driving us in this disastrous direction. Their primary motivation is pretty simple, a desire to retain power and status. They can see the writing on the wall when it comes to the disintegration of status quo authority and credibility, and they fundamentally understand the need to focus on an outside enemy in order to distract attention away from internal failures. Second, we need to understand where we are in the war-creating process. We must acknowledge that very powerful interests have already decided they want this war. To them, this isn’t about weighing facts and being reasonable, they’ve already made up their minds. As such, we are currently in the sales process.
Right at this very moment, we are being sold on this war by the media, politicians, intelligence agencies, as well as various other vested interests who benefit from imperial dominance abroad (unlike the vast majority of us who are severely harmed by it). When you understand that this is simply a huge sales pitch to herd the American public like sheep into a conflict that is not in their best interests, then everything you see and hear around you starts to make sense.
Just in case you doubt my theory that certain people have already decided they want this war, watch the following diatribe by neocon chickenhawk Lindsey “I never saw a war I didn’t like” Graham.
The only thing more disturbing than Graham’s endless rock-throwing lust, is what Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said at the end of it: “I find myself in complete agreement with what he just said, and I appreciate it.” The lunatics are indeed running the asylum.
This is very important. James Clapper admits he wants to throw rocks at Russia. Why? Because in his opinion, Russia provided genuine information to Wikileaks which was embarrassing to the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton lost an election. Let’s just assume for a second that U.S. intelligence does have proof that Putin ran the operation and sent it to Wikileaks for the expressed purpose of helping Trump. If that can be proven, I absolutely think it is meaningful information, and I think the American people should be aware of it. However, would I be willing to get into a war with Russia over it? Certainly not. Would most Americans? I doubt it. To summarize, the American people don’t want war, but many D.C. politicians and special interests do. This divergence makes the situation all the more dangerous.
We need to understand that those who want this war will be absolutely relentless. The sales pitch will not end until they get exactly what they want. This is where all of us critical thinkers need to play a key role. We must be prepared to diligently analyze all unsubstantiated official claims, and push back against the war-mongers, because we know for certain the oligarch-owned corporate media won’t. We must be prepared to inform our fellow citizens about what’s happening so that we don’t fall victim to a cheap sales pitch with devastating consequences. Unfortunately, we must also be prepared for a possible deep state false flag if the current sales tactic falls on deaf ears. … Full article
The Insane Circus Now Going On In Washington – A Sad Parody Of Joseph McCarthy Waving Fistfuls Of Blank Paper, Insisting They Were Russian Spies
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | January 6, 2017
The single most important point to keep in mind about the “Russians did it” three-ring circus underway in Washington – after the essential fact that still no proof has been provided to support accusations coming from the highest level – is that there is no issue around the contrived notion of interfering in an American election or endangering American security. None.
What essentially happened in this leak of private information – yes, I think it was leak, not a case of hacking – was that personal conversations of a highly embarrassing nature were released to the public.
That is not a crime against the state. That is not a matter of national security. And that is not interference in a country’s election. Those are all stupidly false issues even to raise here.
This is the sort of information that gossip columnists or investigative reporters or authors of tell-all books have always been ready to provide the public.
No such reporter or writer is regarded as a spy. None of them is viewed as an agent of a foreign power. But, of course, they are very much resented by the people hurt or embarrassed by the information they provide.
So, we have a double fraud here being perpetrated, right before our eyes, at the highest level in America.
The first fraud is the deliberately dishonest notion that the release of private gossip in any way represented interference in an election.
The second fraud is the unproven assertion that Russia was somehow responsible for obtaining the information.
My mind is not closed to any possible truth here, I do not pre-judge and assert that we are being showered with falsehoods by Obama and his servants, although I do believe that is what is close to certain.
And I believe that it is close to certain because my instincts tell me strongly that when someone makes strong accusations and provides no believable proof, the accusations are almost certainly false, and, as a matter of principle, they should be regarded as false.
This goes double when the accusations are dressed up in strikingly dishonest language – the kind of language beloved by a lowlife politician like John McCain or a demonstrated reckless-tongued and prejudiced anti-Russian bureaucrat such as James Clapper – language, delivered with theatrically somber tones and faces, about interfering in America’s democracy. Incidentally, Clapper’s disgraceful characterization of Assange as a pedophile exactly mimics the empty accusations of sexual perversion old Joseph McCarthy used to level at some of his targets.
Gossip is not interfering in democracy. It is just information people may weigh when they vote, just as valid or not as any other information available. Indeed, its information value to each voter is privately weighed against empty campaign slogans and an avalanche of truly false news provided by an utterly-biased corporate press in the last election. Voters were arguably better informed than in a long time.
What a tiresome circus Washington has become with this matter. All these well-paid officials asserting this or that, carrying on with speeches and committees, and concocting completely unconvincing proof. Meanwhile the nation is absolutely jammed with serious problems receiving no attention. That fact alone tells you more than you may want to know about America’s political establishment.
And all of the circus is because the insanely ambitious Hillary Clinton cannot accept that she is not widely liked and was defeated for that simple reason.
And all because the Democratic Party, married tightly and corruptly to the Clintons as its biggest source of money for years, cannot accept that it ran the wrong candidate.
And all because the Chairman of Hillary’s disastrous campaign, John Podesta, cannot face the embarrassingly stupid fact of his own utter carelessness, his computer password having been “password.”
As Julian Assange has said, a 14-year old could have hacked Podesta’s computer easily. And may we not ask, if what the password guarded was indeed so precious, why wouldn’t this man be considered the chief guilty party for his negligence?
And also, finally, because one of the most disappointing presidents in American history, a man who has failed at most of what he has attempted except at mass killing and displaying extreme arrogance, Obama, viscerally dislikes Vladimir Putin for besting him in Ukraine and in Syria.
He is also miffed and embarrassed that his ridiculous crisscrossing of the country in Air Force One, at public expense for a private purpose, failed to elect Hillary.
He is even further resentful at the lost prospect of being appointed to the Supreme Court by Hillary, something there is every reason to believe she promised him.
As for pretentious appointed hacks like James Clapper, well, the entire history of what I like to call Big Intelligence is littered with their fraudulent claims and failed projects.
There hasn’t been a significant American war in which Big Intelligence didn’t play a role of first concocting “evidence,” the kind of stuff that would be thrown out of any court of law but which serves just fine to assist politicians in temporarily bamboozling the public.
Readers may be interested in the fact of Obama’s unusually cozy relationship with the Pentagon – yes, the Obama of the Peace Prize and people’s 2008 hopes and the big smile and the baritone voice, but also the Obama of all the killing and arrogance and abject failure:
He is their man.
The secret of great fortunes without apparent cause is a crime forgotten, for it was properly done.
— Honoré de Balzac, Le Père Goriot, 1835
Among the current crop of Wall Street financiers, Laurence “Larry” Fink has received the greatest number of awards and plaudits. He is the CEO and Chairman of BlackRock (BR), the world’s largest multinational investment management corporation. By 2016, BR had over $5 trillion dollars under management with over 12,000 employees in 70 offices in 30 countries serving clients in 100 countries.
Fink has dominated Wall Street. He holds more assets than his biggest established competitors, because he had the political power to direct the enormous Washington bailout of Wall Street in 2009. He helped shape Hillary Clinton’s emerging Treasury Department team and policies, anticipating her presidential victory. Under a President Hillary Clinton, Fink’s political control would have matched his global economic empire. According to the Economist, Aladdin, the BlackRock electronic subsidiary, monitors 7% of the world’s 225 trillion dollar financial assets.
In the mass media and among the economic elite, Fink is a genius, a self-made empire builder, who has succeeded because he picks the winners and dumps the losers. He is a life-long Democratic Party contributor, although he works with and through both parties and a variety of high ranking government officials and financial CEOs.
As head of the most influential financial institution in the world, with institutional investors comprising over 65% of its assets, Laurence Fink controls the economic lives of many millions of pensioners, workers, employees and managers. Having risen to the pinnacle of financial power, he wields enormous political influence in shaping fundamental economic decisions. Fink’s economic empire is well-known: the financial elite and business publications are awed by his successes.
There is another side of the Rise of Fink. He has consistently cost his employers and clients millions of dollars in losses while never losing his aura of success! His economic empire is less a result of his economic skills and competitiveness and more a result of his political connections and trillion-dollar state contracts. Fink’s most famous financial product, mortgage-based securities led to the biggest collapse in world financial markets since the Great Depression.
Larry Fink is the best example of how an investment loser can become a ‘double’ W (Wall Street – Washington) emperor. Early on Larry Fink demonstrated his flair for incompetence. During his first position with the First Boston Corporation, Fink lost $100 million by betting the wrong way on interest rates.
After a ‘gentleman’s departure’ Fink co-founded BlackRock (BR) in 1988. He proceeded to grow BR by acquiring or merging with lucrative rivals – but not by investing in factories and productive employment. In 2003 Fink merged with Merrill Lynch, doubling BR asset management. The ‘Genius’ Fink, invested $5.4 billion dollars to purchase Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan, the massive residential complex, built by Metropolitan Life in the 1940s. It was heralded as the largest real estate deal in US housing history. The project ended in default, BR clients lost their money, and the California Pension and Retirement system (CALPERS) was out $500 million dollars under Larry’s stewardship. Undaunted, BR continued to grow by merging with PNC Financial Services Group, Barclay’s Global Investors and numerous other financial specialists in speculative ‘products’.
But the big deal propelling Fink into the ‘thirteen digits’ (trillions) occurred in 2009 when newly elected Barack Obama awarded BlackRock with the Government contract to direct the ‘three-trillion dollar’ bailout of big financial companies and to manage the bankruptcy of others. Perhaps because of Fink’s deep ties with top senior officials, the contract was awarded without competitive bidding. Equally important, because of Fink’s ties with the biggest bankers, he facilitated the flow of Treasury trillions to the banks to be ‘bailed out’ while allowing other smaller banks and investment houses to go ‘belly up’ in a process dubbed ‘the cleanup after the meltdown’. BR would naturally buyout these assets at ‘fire sale’ prices. Millions and billions led to trillions on the BR ledgers. By 2010, Fink’s genius status grew and so did the number of wealthy pension funds and major institutional investors in his portfolio – despite his major losses in the recent past – (as Balzac would note, memories do not include ‘crimes properly done’).
Thus, Larry Fink became the most prominent former deadhead turned trillion-dollar speculator. Despite the influx of trillions, BR faces a new, bigger and more dangerous ‘mistaken’ decision. Fink has ploughed hundreds of billions in client funds in Exchange Traded Funds (ETF), which are likely to take a dive as they overvalue and are under pressure to deflate.
BlackRock has been extraordinarily profitable because of Fink’s unique political, social and ethnic ‘identity’ ties to the US Treasury Department. In May 2009, the Fink-Treasury connection resulted in BlackRock receiving the ‘contract’ to manage the cleanup of ‘toxic’ mortgage assets amounting to an astronomical trillion-dollar chunk of business. In other words, Fink’s company would analyze, unwind and assign value onto billions of dollars of assets owned by Bear Stearns, AIG, Freddie Mac, Morgan Stanley and other lucrative firms. Fink would ‘unwind’ the assets and rewind them into his mega fund; he could set prices favoring BR’s market position.
Fink’s history of mediocre market performance was no obstacle to his success because the political links more than compensated – they guaranteed a bonanza for BR.
The business press provided a veneer of technological and mathematical competence, which they cited as the basis for Fink’s/BR trillion dollar success story.
But the historic and contemporary reality of the political-economic success of the big financial houses depends on their political control over the US Treasury. Their ability to trade and get rich depends on a system of favorable state and federal rules (deregulation, taxes, etc.), which establish the necessary framework for the paper economy. This system is light years away from the ‘real’ economy of factories and stable, well-paying jobs for the citizenry.
Fink has turned BR into an empire by spending his time and energy in the politics of controlling and milking the US Treasury. Controlling this activity is more influential than the President of the United States or Pentagon in deciding who among the elite wins and who loses!
Once at the top, legions of journalists and academic courtesans will busily polish the stars in the financial firmament, covering up their failures and turning their political connections into hymns of praise for the ‘hard work and commitment’ of the self-made genius. This spectacle indeed will dazzle the eyes and judgment of lesser speculators. While the same pundits write extensively about the political leaders and lesser economic titans, the more the Larry Finks of Wall Street remain invisible to the citizenry, the greater their political control over the trillion dollar Treasury!
The events leading to the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey have a long and torturous trail.
The beginning and end are found in President Obama’s attempt to militarily encircle and discredit Russia through massive propaganda and sanctions. Obama built military bases on Russia’s borders; organized a putsch in the Ukraine; launched violent attacks on Russian allies in Libya and Syria; and encircled China, Russia’s ally in Asia.
Obama proceeded to organize Turkey, the EU, Saudi Arabia, Israel and vassal regimes in the Baltic and Balkan countries to dispatch arms, Special Forces and finances to terrorist mercenaries invading Syria, in order to oust Russian bases.
Central to Obama’s anti-Russian legacy was to ensure the election of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Obama worked with Clinton for five years to degrade Russia. To continue, Obama worked in tandem with the Clinton electoral machine to defeat Donald Trump because he was opposed to the anti-Russian campaign.
As the electoral campaign proceeded in Trump’s favor, Obama turned to the intelligence apparatus to intervene in the electoral process. In order to secure Clinton’s victory and heighten efforts to overthrow Russia’s elected government, Obama fabricated a massive campaign attributing the revelations of Clinton’s illegal correspondence to Russian hackers working with Trump.
Trump’s defeat of Clinton was a strategic loss to Obama’s efforts to overthrow Putin. Obama, in response, launched the most intense and virulent propaganda blitz against Russia since the early 1950’s. The mass media went 24/7 claiming Russian penetration of the US electoral system; the subversion of US democracy; and ‘decisive’ collaboration between Putin and Trump in determining the election.
Academics, journalists, the CIA and the rest of the intelligence agencies were recruited, primed and launched in the anti-Trump, anti-Russian campaign.
Obama’s campaign against Trump failed. The recount and Electoral College ploys were defeated. The courts, electoral officials and voters decided against Clinton-Obama.
Obama was enraged to the point of mental instability by a series of strategic defeats in wars and elections. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in prolonged losing wars. The Libyan intervention led to unending wars. Israel and its US cohort insulted, humiliated and led Obama by the nose, securing billions in handouts and the appointment of top Zionist officials. Obama’s encirclement and sanctions policy against Russia failed to undermine Putin’s presidency.
Obama faced a legacy of failure, defeats and disgrace.
With Trump’s triumph and Russian-Syrian military success in Aleppo, Obama’s ‘string broke’. He blamed Russia for his failures. He totally ignored the votes that elected Trump. He brushed off the hand counted recount and Court decisions which validated Clinton’s defeat. Obama’s blackmail and coercion of the Electors failed to change the outcome of the Electoral College. The street disruptions and calls to impeach Trump failed to gain traction.
Obama denied reality , embracing a paranoid vision of a deep Russian takeover.
Obama publicly declared he would openly and covertly pursue revenge, retaliation and deadly assaults on Russia.
Obama pressed forward to prevent Trump’s election, preparing to release a CIA fabricated report of the President–elect’s betrayal of America on the eve of his inauguration.
Obama struck at Russia escalating from added sanctions to assassination.
The Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated by a Turkish policeman who was a member of the US backed Fethullah Gulen movement. The Gulanist assassin echoed Obama’s propaganda line, accusing Russia of destroying Aleppo and its people.
The US mass media repeated the killer/Obama’s justification of the killing.
The murder and justification happened a few days after Obama promised a ‘secret’ and swift assault on Russia.
Trump sensing Obama’s resort to violent retaliation against Russia, and the likelihood he would turn the gun to ‘Putin’s accomplice’, the President-elect decided to take precautionary measures, he replaced Obama’s secret service with his private security guards.
We live in extraordinarily dangerous times. A deranged violent President is in command of a willing media and an intelligence apparatus ready and willing to obey.
There is little doubt that the murder of the Russian Ambassador will be the beginning of a cycle of violent assassinations. It is certain that Putin and Trump will take the appropriate defensive measures.
With a psychotic, frustrated and failed President refusing to concede defeat, we enter the beginning and most sinister period prior to his exit.