Russia

The Stepford Daughters of Brexit and Slavery and the Emergence of Capitalism

Yesterday for our amusement the awesome Kerry Anne Mendoza posted a video on twitter made by two very definitely overprivileged girls talking about the evils of socialism. The two young ladies were Alice and Beatrice Grant, the privately educated granddaughters of the late industrialist and former governor of the Bank of England, Sir Alistair Grant. With their cut-glass accents and glazed, robotic delivery of their lines, they seemed to fit the stereotype of the idiotic Sloane perfectly, right down to the ‘Okay, yah’, pronunciation. Mendoza commented ‘I don’t think this was meant to be a parody, but it’s the perfect roast of the “yah-yah” anti-left.’

Absolutely. In fact, what the girls were describing as socialism was really Communism, completely ignoring democratic socialism, or social democracy – the form of socialism that demands a mixed economy, with a strong welfare state and trade unions, progressive taxation and social mobility. It also ignored anti-authoritarian forms of socialism, like syndicalism, guild socialism or anarcho-Communism. They were also unaware that Marx himself had said that, regarding the interpretations of his views promoted by some of his followers, he wouldn’t be a Marxist.

But it would obviously be too much to expect such extremely rich, public school girls to know any of this. They clearly believed, and had been brought up to believe, the Andrew Roberts line about capitalism being the most wonderful thing every invented, a mechanism that has lifted millions around the world out of poverty. Etc. Except, as Trev, one of the great commenters on Mike’s and this blog, said

If “Capitalism works” why are there a million people using foodbanks in Britain today? Not working that well is it? Why did the Government bail out the Banks using our money? Why did the Banking system collapse in the first place, was it because of Socialism? I don’t find these idiotic spoilt brats in the least bit funny, I feel bloody angry. When was the last time they ate food they found in the street? Bring back the Guillotine!

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/08/14/these-young-ladies-of-brexit-need-to-be-seen-to-be-believed/

The two girls were passionate supporters of the Fuhrage and his wretched party, and were really looking forward to a no-deal Brexit. It shows how out of touch these girls are, as Brexit is already wrecking the British economy, and a no-deal Brexit and subsequent deal with a predatory America would just wipe it out completely. Along with everything that has made post-war Britain great – the NHS and welfare state. But these girls obviously have no connection with working people or, I guess, the many businesses that actually depend on manufacturing and exports. I think the girls’ family is part of financial sector, who stand to make big profits from Brexit, or at least are insulated from its effects because they can move their capital around the globe.

The girls’ views on the EU was similarly moronic. They really do seem to believe that the EU is somehow an oppressive, communistic superstate like the USSR. It wasn’t. And the reason anti-EU socialists, like the late, great Tony Benn distrusted it was partly because in their view it stood for capital and free trade against the interests of the nation state and its working people.

And they also have weird views on slavery and the EU’s attitude to the world’s indigenous peoples. To the comment by David Lammy, the Black Labour politico, who dared to correct Anne Widdecombe for comparing Brexit to the great slave revolts, they tweeted

“Lammy being pathetic as usual. The chains of slavery can be intangible, as amply shown in China, the Soviet Union and the EU; to deny that just shows your ignorance and petty hatred for the truth”.

To which Zelo Street commented that there two things there. First of all, it’s best not to tell a Black man he doesn’t understand slavery. And second, the EU isn’t the USSR.

They were also against the Mercosur deal the EU wishes to sign with the South American nations, because these would lead to environmental destruction and the dispossession and exploitation of the indigenous peoples.

“As usual the GREED and selfishness of the EU imposes itself using their trade ‘deals’ in the name of cooperation and fake prosperity. The indigenous tribes of the Amazon need our protection not deforestation”.

To which Zelo Street responded with incredulity about how they could claim environmental concern for a party headed by Nigel Farage.

And they went on. And on, going on about how the EU was a threat to civil liberties. And there was more than a touch of racism in their statement that Sadiq Khan should be more concerned to make all Londoners feel safe, not just EU migrants. They also ranted about how Labour had sold out the working class over Brexit in favour of the ‘immoral, money hungry London elite’. Which shows that these ladies have absolutely no sense of irony or any self-awareness whatsoever.

In fact, Zelo Street found them so moronic and robotic, that it dubbed them the Brexit party’s Stepford Daughters, referring to the 70s SF film, the Stepford Wives. Based on the novel by Ira Levin, the films about a community where the men have killed their wives and replaced them with robots.

See:  https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/08/brexit-party-presents-stepford-daughters.html

There’s a lot to take apart with their tweets. And perhaps we shouldn’t be two hard on the girls. They’re only 15 and 17. A lot of young people at that age have stupid views, which they grow out of. But there is one issue that really needs to be challenged.

It’s their assumptions about slavery and the genocide of indigenous peoples. Because this is one massive problem to any assumption that capitalism is automatically good and beneficial.

There’s a very large amount of scholarship, much of it by Black activists and researchers, about slavery and the emergence of European capitalism and the conquest of the Americas. They have argued that European capitalism was greatly assisted by the profits from New World slavery. Caribbean historians like Dr Richard Hart, in his Blacks in Bondage, have shown that transatlantic slavery was a capitalist industry. For the enslaved indigenous peoples and the African men and women, who replaced them when they died out, capitalism certainly did not raise them out of poverty. Rather it has done the opposite – it enslaved them, and kept them in chains until they were able to overthrow it successfully with assistance of European and American abolitionists in the 19th century.

And among some left-wing West Indians, there’s still bitterness towards America for its constant interference in the Caribbean and Central and South America. America did overthrow liberal and progressive regimes across the world, and especially in the New World, when these dared to challenge the domination of American corporations. The overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz’s democratic socialist regime in Guatemala is a case in point. Arbenz was overthrown because he dared to nationalise the banana plantations. Which upset the American United Fruit Company, who got their government to overthrow him in coup. He was replaced by a brutal Fascistic dictatorship that kept the plantation workers as virtual slaves. And the Americans also interfered in Jamaican politics. They were absolutely opposed to the Jamaican Labour party politician, Michael Manley, becoming his nation’s Prime Minister, and so did everything they could to stop him. Including cutting trade.

And then there’s the enslavement and genocide of the indigenous peoples.

Before Columbus landed in the New World, South America had a population of about seven million. There were one million people in the Caribbean. I think there were similar numbers in North America. But the indigenous peoples were enslaved and worked to death. They were also decimated through diseases carried by Europeans, to which they had no immunity. The Taino people were driven to extinction. The Caribs, from whom the region takes its name, were able to survive on a reservation granted to them in the 18th century by the British after centuries of determined resistance. The conquest of the New World was a real horror story.

And Britain also profited from the enslavement of indigenous peoples. I doubt the girls have heard of it, but one of the scandals that rocked British imperialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was that of the Putomayo Indians of South America. They had been enslaved by British rubber corporations. It was this abuse of a subject people that turned the Irish patriot, Roger Casement, from a British civil servant to an ardent Nationalist.

On the other side of the world, in the Pacific, British imperialism also managed to dispossess an entire Polynesian people and trash their island. This was in the 1920s. The island was rich in mineral deposits, and so moved the indigenous people out, ultimately relocating them to Fiji. Their island was then strip-mined, leaving it a barren, uninhabitable rock. In the 1980s the survivors were trying to sue the government over their maltreatment, but with no success.

This is what unfettered British imperialism and capitalism did. And what I’ve no doubt Farage and other far right British politicians would like to do again without the restraints of international law. It’s why I believe that, whatever the demerits of the Mercosur agreement are, it’s probably better than what individual nations would do without the restraint of the EU.

The girls are right to be concerned about the fate of indigenous peoples. But they are profoundly wrong in their absolute, uninformed belief that unregulated capitalism will benefit them.

It doesn’t. It enslaves, dehumanises and dispossesses. Which is why we need international organisations like the EU, and why the Brexit party isn’t just a danger to Britain, but to the world’s weaker, developing nations and their indigenous peoples.

Brendan O’Neill Claims El Paso Mass Murderer ‘Eco-Terrorist’

Is there no lie so low that Brendan O’Neill and Spiked won’t stoop to? Spiked magazine, as has been pointed out by various left-wing blogs, is completely unrelated to the satirical magazine of the same name that briefly appeared in the 1990s. That was an attempt to compete with Private Eye, but rather more left-wing and much more scatological. It had a cartoon strip spoofing Clinton with the title ‘Clinton’s Got Aides’, for example, which was presumably a pun about both the presidential staffers and the disease. The modern Spiked is frantically right-wing. It’s what happened to the net work around Living Marxism magazine after Communism collapsed. Instead of carrying on the ideological struggle for equality and workers’ rights, the former Revolutionary Communists decided to throw on in their lot with capitalism and became extremely right-wing. And one of their latest pieces of drivel is very unpleasant indeed.

On Thursday, the Sage of Crewe put up on Zelo Street a piece taking apart an article by Brendan O’Neill, one of Spiked’s hacks, who decided to vent his spleen and try to smear the left with the El Paso massacre last weekend. You’d have thought this would be difficult, as the murderer was a White supremacist with a bitter hatred of immigrants. Like the White terrorist a few months ago who shot up the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, because they were Jews, who were heavily involved with a charity for immigrants. But no, for O’Neill it was because the mass-murderer was an ‘eco-terrorist’. O’Neill’s piece began

“In his alleged manifesto, the killer, alongside his racist rants about Hispanic people and the ‘replacement’ of whites, attacks modern society for being eco-unfriendly. Westerners’ lifestyles are ‘destroying the environment’ and ‘creating a massive burden for future generations’, he says. He seems obsessed with the core element of green thinking.

He then went on to state that the murderer in his manifesto was also strongly opposed to urban sprawl, consumer culture for producing thousands of tonnes of plastic and electronic waste, and humanity’s decimation of the environment. He also alleged that the murderer targeted a Wal-Mart as an act of ‘eco-Malthusianism’. O’Neill speculated that he not only wanted to kill Latinos, but also shoppers. He also claimed that the butcher, who opened fire on the worshippers at the mosque in Christchurch said that he was an ‘eco-Fascist’ not a Nazi. The Zelo Street article effectively tears O’Neill’s nonsense to shreds, quoting a comment by Zubaida Haque:

“Brendan O’Neill’s piece is utterly dishonest. I’ve seen the manifesto thru a journalist. It’s almost entirely focused on immigrants and barely mentions environmentalists. And there’s a whole section on guns, how it’s great that US have them and how the killer needed to adapt his”.

Zelo Street notes that, strangely, O’Neill’s article doesn’t mention that. He also skewers the article’s attempts to appear mildly even-handed by throwing in a few ‘perhaps’ and ‘it seems’ when the title of the wretched article asserts that ‘El Paso was a vile act of eco-terrorism’. He concludes that O’Neill is a massive charlatan, ‘so no change there then’.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/08/brendan-o-neill-out-trolls-himself.html

There are several points of interest about the article, and how it tries to divert attention from the attacker’s real motives. One is O’Neill’s careful avoidance of informing his readers that the El Paso terrorist was a gun nut. The Republican party gets a considerable amount of funding from the NRA, whose leadership get donations from the gun and munitions companies. Most Americans, including the rank and file members of the NRA, would actually like tougher legislation on certain types firearms to prevent atrocities like this occurring. Or at least, preventing the killers from having access to military-grade weaponry. But because of the power of corporate sponsorship, this is ignored in favour of the fanatics, who believe that every American should have the right to own the type of guns and armaments wielded by professional soldiers. In the name of freedom, of course.

The argument here is that a free people need guns in order to defend themselves from an oppressive regime. The Holocaust is often cited as an example. If the Jews had guns, it’s argued, they could have successfully fought off the Nazis. This ignores the fact that the legislation permitting and demanding their persecution was gradually enacted, so that it is difficult to tell when German and eastern European Jews could have rebelled before it was too late. Furthermore, while the Jews were disarmed, the Nazis were also very firmly in favour of ‘Aryan’ Germans owning firearms. And in many cases, Jews did not go passively to the gas chambers, but rose in heroic revolt. But this didn’t help them, because they were pitched against the massively superior force of the German armed forces. No matter how incredibly bravely they fought, it was inevitable that, with the exception of the Russian Jews, who banded together in that country’s forests, they’d lose.

Guns don’t guarantee freedom. And the availability of military-grade weapons to the public just makes atrocities like El Paso possible, regardless of the views of doubtless responsible weapons hobbyists.

There’s also the attempt in O’Neill’s article to smear Green politics with the taint of Fascism. The Republicans in America have been doing that for a very long time. I remember coming across this type of argument in the 1980s. This argues that because the Nazis were very ecologically aware, environmentalism itself is somehow automatically Fascist. This obviously ignores the central features of Fascism – dictatorship, extreme nationalism, racism and militarism. It also ignores the fact that the roots of the modern Green movement lies in the increasing appreciation of the threatened beauty of the natural world from the 19th century onward by thinkers and social movements that had nothing to do with Nazism or organised anti-Semitism. One source of the American Conservationist movement, for example, is working class huntsmen. The same people the American Right tends to celebrate and defend. In fact much of the early Conservationist movement in both America and Britain came from the first few generations of factory workers, who yearned for the beauty of the countryside their parents and grandparents had left in search of work. At the same time, local authorities and the wider public in Britain became concerned about the threat to the countryside from urban sprawl and the dangers to health from industrial pollution, lack of sanitation and overcrowding. One early example of this new sensibility in art is Cruikshank’s 1829 cartoon, London Going Out of Town, which shows the capital, represented by decaying buildings, and personified by marching, anthropomorphic buckets and spades, invading a terrified, equally anthropomorphised countryside.

O’Neill’s piece also shows how desperate the Anglo-American Right are to divert attention from the role of nationalism in the rising racism and the resulting atrocities. Remember how Candace Owens, when she appeared over here to promote Turning Point UK, tried to distance nationalism from the Nazis? She notoriously claimed that, in her opinion, Hitler wasn’t a nationalist. He was the opposite of a nationalist, she claimed, because he didn’t want what was right for his own country. He imposed it on others. She was rightly torn to shreds for this piece of utter bunkum by people, who pointed out that her wretched comment seemed to suggest that it would have been all right for Hitler to exterminate the Jews, if he had just kept to those in Germany. They also pointed out that Hitler actively said that he was a nationalist. It was in his party’s name: the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP). Conservatives, not just in America, like to claim that he was a socialist on the basis of the party’s name, despite the fact that the Nazis weren’t and were actively hostile to it, whatever they said to the contrary. But they really don’t want to face the fact that he also rightly claimed to be a nationalist.

O’Neill’s article is thus absolute rubbish, designed to protect nationalism and the gun lobby by throwing the blame instead on the Green movement. It’s an example of Spiked’s absolute mendacity, and is pretty much in line with the Right’s hatred of environmentalism and its increasing concern to defend racism and extreme nationalism. And unfortunately, as governments in America and Britain move rightward, I fear we can expect more of this dangerous nonsense.

Giles Coren Racially Abuses Megan Markle

Just as the CST this weekend decided to smear 36 people as anti-Semites, largely because they supported Jeremy Corbyn, and hated the Tories, Rachel Riley, and Tom Watson, Times‘ columnist Giles Coren made his own racist comment about Prince Harry’s consort, Megan Markle. Harry had said that he intends to have only two children because of the the current environmental crisis. So Coren jumped in and declared that he really said it because Markle had ‘raised the drawbridge’ and it was really due to domestic squabbles between the royal couple. He then went on and declared that they had booked a meeting with a marriage guidance counselor, but had got Jane Goodall instead.

That’s Jane Goodall, the primatologist, who studied gorillas.

The good peeps on Twitter were not amused, and pointed out just how racist the tweet was. It’s the old sneer about Black people being subhuman monkeys. They also predicted that if Coren was taken to task for it, he’d immediately start trying to excuse it by saying he wasn’t being racist, honest, and then give out some remarks supporting him by his White friends, while issuing some kind of non-apology.

Zelo Street concluded his article on this nasty little piece of privileged racism

From Coren there has so far been silence. But he will have to say something, even if he attempts to cover his tracks by pretending he didn’t mean what he clearly did mean.

Attempts to normalise racism are worrying. Attempts to normalise racism coming from a supposedly quality paper are not just worrying – they are totally inexcusable.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/08/giles-coren-right-royal-racist.html

Coren is the Times’ restaurant critic, and like several other ‘slebs, he has quaffed deep of the well of mediocrity. It’s unlikely he would have got his job, and appeared on TV – he was one of the ‘Supersizers’ who every week looked back at the cuisine in different periods of the past with Sue Perkins – if he didn’t come from a privileged background.

He is also sadly not alone in his sneers and abuse at Markle. The I’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown commented on it in her column in this morning’s edition of the paper. She noted the ugly racism hiding behind these sneers. They’re based on outrage at an American woman of colour with genuinely feminist views marrying into the royal family. How dare she! Especially after she edited Vogue to list the leading, most influential and inspirational women.

I’ve no doubt that part of the sneer also comes from part of the Tory right’s bitter hatred of environmentalism. The Daily Heil published a whole slew of articles a few years ago declaring global warming to be fake, because the Russians apparently said so. And Trump’s government is doing its level, horrendous best to close down and silence the Environmental Protection Agency for the Republicans’ supporters and donors in the petrochemical industry, like the notorious Koch brothers. I’ve got a feeling the Times is one of the other newspapers, whose columnists have tried to discredit climate change. I seem to remember one of the producers of the BBC science documentary series, Horizon, remarking at a talk at the Cheltenham Festival of Science a few years ago how he had been forced to put right gently another very well established journo, who didn’t believe in it.

I believe a number of members of the royal family are also patrons of the World Wide Fund for Nature, what used to be the World Wildlife Fund, and so do have an interest in conservation. Which would suggest that Harry’s statement on why he was having no more than two sprogs is entirely genuinely. One of the problems is overpopulation, although in the West birthrates are actually falling to or below replacement level, so that there may well be a demographic crisis due to this. Quite apart from all the nutters, who believe that it’s all part of the ‘Great Replacement’ in which the Jews are secretly destroying the White race to replace them with non-White immigrants.

This isn’t the first Coren has expressed noxious, right-wing views either. A little while ago he took it upon himself to sneer at people from council estates. I have no idea why, except perhaps just sheer snobbery. Now he’s found a new target in Megan Markle. And it’s an example of the racism, snobbery and reactionary anti-environmentalism that now permeates and shames the Tory press. And it shows just how nasty the Times has become under Murdoch.

 

Boris Appoints Security Threat Priti Patel To Cabinet

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/08/2019 - 7:36pm in

Last week, Boris Johnson appointed Priti Patel to be the new Home Secretary. This is deeply ironic, as the thoroughly objectionable Patel was thrown out of the cabinet by Tweezer in 2017 after she was caught holding unscheduled meetings with Israeli ministers and supporting their objectives in the UK, purely on her own initiative. The woman, who is now in charge of British national security, is actually a threat to it.

This is not hyperbole. Israel is a foreign power, no matter how many Zionist fanatics claim criticism of it is offensive because it’s important to their sense of Jewish identity. It’s supposed to be a friendly country, but all too frequently doesn’t behave like one. Allied, friendly nations aren’t supposed to spy on each other. But Israel does. They were caught spying on British citizens back in the days of Thatcher. She, however, certainly didn’t tolerate it. Not only did she thoroughly reprimand the Israelis, she also threatened to have their spy base over here closed down and thrown out of the country. The Israelis duly apologised and stopped.

This was in complete contrast to what happened when they did the same under Blair. Instead of threatening to close them down, the war criminal gave them a mild reprimand, essentially a slap on the wrist. Possibly he was prevented from going further because the money that funded his office, and which allowed him to be independent of the trade unions he despised, was raised through Lord Levy, whom he had a met at a gathering of the Israeli embassy, and came from pro-Israeli businessmen.

And we’ve seen over here how the Israelis have absolutely no qualms in meddling in our politics with al-Jazeera’s revelations in their documentary, ‘The Lobby’. This caught Shai Masot, an official at the Israeli embassy, conspiring – and that is the right word – with a member of the civil service – to have Alan Duncan dropped from Tweezer’s cabinet because he was a supporter of the Palestinians. He was to be replaced with someone more supportive of the Israelis. Like Boris Johnson, whose name was most definitely mentioned. And then there’s the still murky links between Joan Ryan and Labour Friends of Israel and the Israeli embassy. Ryan was caught on camera stating that she’d been given a million pounds by the Israeli government, but didn’t say what the money was for. So what was it for? It’s an obvious deduction that the money was given to make the Labour party, or at least certain individuals within it, more pro-Israel. But, alas, we didn’t learn how, and asking questions of that sort gets you tarred as an anti-Semite. Even if it’s a fair question to ask of money coming into any political party, from any foreign government.

The Israelis are also known for carrying out assassinations and other intelligence operations abroad. A few years ago it was reported by the mainstream media that an Arab militant had apparently been shot by the Israeli intelligence services in one of the other Arab nations. The Beeb report made it clear that this was not an isolated incident. But the Israelis also aren’t afraid of carrying out such operations in friendly countries in Europe. Back in the 1990s the cops in one European country caught Israeli spies trying to snatch a Arab militant from a block of flats. I think it might have been in Switzerland, but a friend of mine tells me it was Sweden. Whatever. These idiots, who were less James Bond as Johnny English, decided that their operation should best be done under cover of darkness. So they cut the electricity to the entire building at the junction box. Sweden’s – or Switzerland’s – finest were alerted, and hurried round to throw the clowns into the party van. There was much anguished comment in the paper afterwards over how the Israeli security services, who once smuggled Khrushchev’s secret speech denouncing Stalin to the West three days after it was made by the Russian president, could have fallen so low. How was it that such an efficient, highly professional organisation could now have become a bunch of bungling morons?

And I’ve also heard friend of friend stories from people in this country, which claim that they were spied upon by Mossad for their contacts with other Israelis. How much truth there is in these rumours I honestly don’t know. I’ve never asked the people concerned themselves, and it could just be paranoid rumour and nothing more. Like some of the stories about people being spied on by MI5, the CIA, the KGB or the Red Chinese or whoever. On the other hand, as the Israelis have been caught interfering in our politics and spying on us and other friendly nations, it could well be true.

By making these highly unofficial meetings with senior Israeli figures, Patel showed she was quite prepared to work with them outside the knowledge and permission of her own government. She was prepared to collaborate with them against her own government. And in appointing her to his cabinet, Boris Johnson has shown that he has absolutely no objection to his ministers operating in this way and that he will docilely accept Israeli interference in British domestic affairs, even when they undermine the normal processes of democracy.

Priti Patel is a threat to British national security and the personal safety of British citizens. Just as Boris is also ready either to look the other way, or willing comply with Israeli conduct that would be roundly condemned and prosecuted by other leaders and nations.

And it isn’t anti-Semitic to say that.

Get them both out!

Publishing Stolen Material: WikiLeaks, the DNC and Freedom of Speech

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/08/2019 - 4:36pm in

It may well be a finding of some implication should Julian Assange find his way into the beastly glory that is the US justice system. In its efforts to rope in President Donald Trump’s election campaign, Wikileaks, Assange and the Russian Federation for hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, the DNC case was found wanting.

East-West Strategic Temperature Hotting up in Asia-Pacific

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 31/07/2019 - 7:00pm in

My former professional background as a policy planner ( 1985-90) in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and related areas where I worked for 30 years enabled me to hone the skills of ‘joining the dots’ between apparently disconnected facts. It was particularly easy to do so, as I read three stories about China on page 11 of the Australian Financial Review on Wednesday 24 July.

Does the U.S. army really intend to leave Syria?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 31/07/2019 - 5:32am in

Last December, the U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the Pentagon started the process of withdrawing its troops from Syria. Even then, many people were quite skeptical about the words of the American president while a number of political analysts and experts noted that the Americans are unlikely to pull out their troops from Syria, taking into account the interests of Washington in the Middle East.

Cartoon: Warning signs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 30/07/2019 - 9:50pm in

Getting somewhat lost in the shuffle of Trump's racist tweets (which obviously require a response) is the breathtaking assault on fair elections that has even graver implications for civil rights. Slate's Dahlia Lithwick has a good rundown on the recent Supreme Court decision that the federal courts cannot address grossly distorted electoral maps. As she notes:

To be sure both sides gerrymander for their own ends as these cases show, but Republicans have been able to do it better and more in recent years. In 2010, the Republicans took control of most swing states and took power in ways that they have been able to maintain through much of this decade. The decision to sit this one out so that the court can appear magisterial is a decision to help one party, just as eviscerating the Voting Rights Act and blessing voter ID laws have been.

Then we have the underreported detail of the Russians penetrating our voting systems in apparently all 50 states with the capacity to change votes. I mean, how much coverage did Hillary's emails get compared to this? And now Mitch McConnell won't fund a bipartisan election security bill. Don't forget that the Trump administration has eliminated the position of Obama's cybersecurity coordinator, who first noted that the Russians had targeted all 50 states. Good thing we have a conspiracy-spewing wackadoo nominated to take over national intelligence.

Help sustain these comics — join the Sorensen Subscription Service!

Follow me on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Why Did Putin Do It?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 29/07/2019 - 6:10am in

That Russia interfered with the 2016 US election is now established beyond a reasonable doubt. Special Counsel Robert Mueller  and the Justice Department last year indicted a dozen Russian intelligence officers who were said to be responsible for the hacks of Democratic National Committee emails subsequently given to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, who published them.  Last week the Senate’s Select Intelligence Committee published the first of what are expected to be five volumes documenting various Russian state-sponsored “active measures” in the run-up to the election.

I doubt very much that the Russian campaigns changed the election result. Other, more powerful forces were at work. The interesting question is, why did Vladimir Putin want it to be done.

I’ve long argued, at intervals in this space, and at book-length here, that the seeds of today’s bad relationship with Russia were sown during the Clinton administration by the American president and his team’s cavalier attitude towards Russian concerns in the aftermath of the Cold War, especially over NATO expansion.

The first tranche of new members was admitted (Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic) and a second one planned under Clinton.  Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia were admitted under George W. Bush, and a third tranche planned (Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia/Herzegovina, North Macedonia, and, eventually, Georgia and Ukraine). The agenda was pursued under Barack Obama, chiefly by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

So I have been reading with great interest The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal (Random House, 2019), by William F. Burns, who retired in 2014 after 33 years in the Foreign Service.  A former ambassador to Russia under Bush (2005-08), Burns became Deputy Secretary of State under Obama (2011-2014). He graduated from LaSalle College in 1977 and Oxford University (as a Marshall Scholar) in 1980.  Today he is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and widely regarded as “simply one of the finest American diplomats of the past half-century,” in former Secretary of State James Baker’s description.

As a young political officer in Moscow in 1994, Burns observed the situation close up.  Secretary Baker had promised, in Moscow in 1990, that, in exchange for Soviet acquiescence to the reunification of Germany, NATO’s jurisdiction would not shift “one inch to the east” of the German border. Yeltsin and the Russian elite had assumed, he writes, “with considerable justification,” that his commitment could be depended on. But it had never been written down, Bill Clinton had defeated Bush, and the Clinton administration’s interpretation of the inherited promise was “fairly ambiguous.”  Two years after taking office, with the heads of state of Poland, Hungary and then-Czechoslovakia clamoring for admission – but over the objections of Defense Secretary William Perry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Clinton announced in a speech that the question of NATO enlargement was “not if but when.” (The story of deliberations within NATO has yet to be told.)

After the American president visited Moscow in 1995 to celebrate the USSR’s contribution to the defeat of Germany in World War II, the embassy cabled, “There is a solid consensus within the Russian elite that NATO expansion is a bad idea, period.” Clinton deferred formal invitations to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic until Yeltsin was re-elected in the summer of 1996, then, after his own re-election in November, went ahead.  On the eve of the decision, George Kennan, the architect of the policy of containment fifty years before, called it “a strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions.”

Clinton asked Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott about Kennan’s speech. Talbott, who had been Clinton’s roommate at Oxford twenty years before, replied (as recorded in The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy [Random House 2002]) that polls showed that US opposition to enlargement was not broad-based; it was confined, he said, “mainly to the foreign policy elite.”  He believed “something similar was true on the Russian side,” he told Clinton.

Burns writes, “Sitting in the embassy in the mid-990s, it seemed to me that NATO expansion was premature at best, and needlessly provocative at worst.”  Applied to the first wave of Central European admissions, “Kennan’s comments struck me as a little hyperbolic,” he continued, “damaging to the prospects for future relations, but not fatally.

“Where we made a serious strategic mistake – and where Kennan was prescient – was in later letting inertia drive us to push for NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, despite Russia’s deep historical attachments to both states and even stronger protestation. That did indelible damage and fed the appetite of future Russian leadership for getting even.”

The Russian hacking of 2016 also did indelible damage to the relationship and, for that matter, to Russia’s reputation around the world.  Who know what – besides exasperation – the Russian president was thinking? Putin’s overture, in the spring of 2017, to make amends with cyberwar-limitation talks was dead on arrival.

Clinton initiated what would become the slow train wreck of great power relations; Bush accelerated it; Obama permitted it to finally occur, first in Libya, next in Ukraine. Then Putin burned the bridge. It will be the work of generations to restore the atmosphere of cautious mutual trust in which the Cold War ended.

The post Why Did Putin Do It? appeared first on Economic Principals.

The EU’s other Periphery

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 28/07/2019 - 5:14am in

Frank Lee We’ll start with the 10 per capita poorest countries in the whole of Europe. In rank order: Moldova – GDP US$2560 Ukraine – GDP US$3560 Kosovo – GDP US$3990 Albania – US$4450 Bosnia and Herzegovina – GDP US$4769 Republic of Macedonia – GDP US$5150 Serbia – GDP US$5820 Montenegro – GDP US$7320 Bulgaria …

Pages