Russia

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).

From RussiaGate to UkraineGate: Route to Apocalypse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/04/2021 - 3:44am in

KIEV, UKRAINE — Within three months of the ascendancy of Joseph Biden to the presidency of the United States, the world teeters on the edge of nuclear war, whether by design or accident, as Russia reports that the U.S. is placing considerable pressure on Ukraine to attack the independent republics of the Donbass for which Russia provides logistical support. The U.S. European Command has raised its alert status to the highest level and warned of a “potential imminent crisis.”

Mounting tension is an entirely foreseeable outcome of the sludge-like flow over the past four years of Democratic Party fables about Russia, RussiaGate, Ukraine, and U.S. national security, on behalf of the Incubus, a sordid network of military, defense and surveillance industries, militarized academe and think tanks, and complicit Western mainstream media.

In his first phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, U.S. President Joseph Biden affirmed his country’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s allegedly ongoing aggression in the Donbass and Crimea. Biden’s defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, in a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, added his assurances of U.S. support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations (i.e., Ukraine’s ambition to acquire full membership in both NATO and the EU), which, if achieved, would add a further 1400 miles to the boundary between NATO and Russia and cement the encirclement of Russia.

In as many months as Biden has held the presidency the U.S. has shipped three consignments of arms to Ukraine, adding to the $2 billion of security assistance the U.S. has extended to Ukraine since 2014. The U.S. has deployed nuclear-capable B-1 bombers to Norway for the first time in NATO’s history. This year’s NATO war exercises include U.S.-led Rapid Trident and Sea Breeze, British-Ukrainian Cossack Mace and Warrior Watcher, Romanian-Ukrainian Riverine, and Polish-Ukrainian Three Swords and Silver Sabre.

A dangerous new joker in the pack is Turkey, relatively fresh from assisting Azerbaijan’s 2020 victory against Armenia in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, now participating in NATO-Ukrainian military exercises against Russia. This move threatens escalation of tensions between Moscow and Ankara in Turkey’s seeming bid with NATO to seal off the Black Sea from Russian presence, as part of which Ukraine hopes to establish two new military bases (with financial help from the U.K.), help steal the major Russian naval port of Sebastopol for Ukraine, and consolidate Turkish control over oil and gas deposits to which Turkey lays claim. Turkish frigates have joined U.S. and Ukrainian navies in the Black Sea since January.

 

The contribution of RussiaGate demonization

There were many solid grounds for an upswell of both establishment and public alarm as Donald Trump eked out electoral victory in 2016 and as he unfolded his agenda over the succeeding four years. His relations with Russia were not among them. Far more important and evidentiary was his stubborn refusal to acknowledge the threats of climate change. Not only did he repudiate evidence that climate change might well lead to the end of the human species within a generation or two, but he actively reversed weak countermeasures already in place. Worse, he malevolently sought to amplify the threat, among other things by boosting fossil fuel interests and doubling back on transition to lower fuel emissions from petroleum cars.

He exacerbated the shameless verticalization of wealth inequality in the U.S., obfuscating this with sordid appeals to racist and fascist instincts of his base in decayed, industrial wastelands vacated by a U.S.-globalized economy. Where capital accrues in private hands to a degree that it can compete against and corrupt the public sphere and — through disproportionate, anonymous advocacy, lobbying, campaign finance and bribery — undermine attempts to regulate corporate and plutocratic power, there is no meaningful democracy. Trump’s behavior towards the end of his period in office and apparent incitement of a violent coup d’etat, testify to an unhinged oligarchic impulse to narcissistic promotion of personal and class interest above all competing considerations, even above annihilation of the species.

As though none of these concerns provided sufficient political ammunition, the Democratic Party throughout much of Trump’s presidency allowed just one meme to drown out almost everything else: RussiaGate. Not only did this fable get little traction with the majority of people living in the real world, the RussiaGate narrative has proven to lie somewhere between disinformation and egregious hoax.

Trump Russia

A woman looks at front pages from around the nation on display at the Washington Newseum, March 23, 2019. Alex Brandon | AP

It was founded on at least three dubious chains of argument:

  1. A piece of opposition research cobbled together by a former MI6 agent and paid for by the Democratic Party (the “Steele dossier”);
  2. Perhaps the shallowest Intelligence Community Assessment ever published (the ICA of January 2016); this piece of theatre provided little to no actual evidence of significance, disavowed any claim to accuracy, but legitimized claims of a private contractor, CrowdStrike (hired by the DNC but with previous FBI links), for which the company later admitted it had no direct evidence, that DNC servers had been hacked by Russians;
  3. An FBI investigation, Crossfire Hurricane, that proceeded amidst increasing awareness of the problematic, deeply partisan character of the Steele dossier, which it deployed in the process of seeking FISA warrants to investigate a Trump adviser whom it knew to have been a CIA informant (information it tried to hide).

Did Trump and his campaign team have connections to Russians? Of course, some of them did. Yet a two-year-long investigation by a former FBI director, drawing on the assistance of over a dozen FBI agents, was unable to establish that there had been coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Its most significant indictments against Russians fell apart when challenged. Robert Mueller was barely able to establish obstruction because there had been no fundamental criminality whose investigation could be obstructed.

Those who received any punishment were charged with offenses that had little or nothing at all to do with the fundamental reason why the special counsel had been appointed. Donald Trump, in his campaign, had wisely recognized the advantages of building more positive relations between Russia and the U.S. (disincentivizing Sino-Russian bonding not the least of them). Under the cloud of RussiaGate suspicion fomented ceaselessly by the Democrats and their media allies, the only Russia-related measures that Trump took while in office undermined U.S.-Russia relations, recklessly plunging the world towards the nuclear abyss from a precipice admirably suited for none other than his successor, President Joe Biden.

 

The 2014 Ukraine coup

Trump had been roundly castigated, and impeached, for pressurizing a new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Trump’s likely rival, Joe Biden, for the 2020 election, in return for expediting U.S. arms support to Ukraine in its struggle against separatist republics of eastern Ukraine (the Donbass). Whatever its legality, Trump’s behavior certainly did not favor Russia. It could be argued that there was a stronger actual tie between Ukraine and President Biden than ever existed between former President Trump and Russia. Trump was unable even to interest Moscow or Russian President Vladimir Putin in a proposal for a Moscow Trump Tower. Biden left a much deeper impression on Ukraine.

In 2014 the Obama administration — in part through the offices of Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European affairs — supported a coup d’etat in Ukraine that, through persistent street demonstrations in which neo-Nazi militia played a key role, toppled Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Although labeled pro-Russian by Western mainstream media, Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions, advised in part by none other than key RussiaGate player Paul Manafort (later and for a brief period appointed chair of the Trump campaign in 2016), tilted towards acceptance of an agreement with the European Union that would have unquestionably cemented the EU as Ukraine’s major patron in rivalry with Russia.

Yanukovych fatefully switched direction from the EU in favor of Russia at the last moment (possibly because Russia was offering a more attractive, less patronizing, and ultimately less invasive deal), thus provoking the Maidan protests, U.S./EU (and Biden’s) egging them on, and Yanukovych’s departure. Protestors met with deadly resistance by State forces but there were also resistance snipers who shot protestors with a view to further inflaming international support in their favor.

In its initial deliberations, the emerging coup regime following the departure of Yanukovych expressed considerable hostility towards the influence of Russia, Russian language, Russian media, and Russian culture through many parts of southern and eastern Ukraine that were predominantly Russian speaking (just as Zelensky is doing once more in 2021). This would explain and possibly justify Russia’s concern for the welfare of the considerable population of Russian-speakers in Crimea, which had belonged to Russia (or the former Soviet Union) for over two hundred years and whose economy was built around Sebastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. That city has long been a major Russian naval center and one of Russia’s few major seaports, leased by Russia under treaty with Ukraine that allowed for the presence of several thousand Russian troops.

A threatening, anti-Russian government in Kiev guaranteed that Russia would protect its security interests and the interests of most of the Crimean population. This it did, but only after a referendum of the Crimean people and a subsequent formal request from Crimea to Russia that it be permitted to rejoin Russia. Reliable polls from both before and after the return of Crimea to Russia indicate consistently strong popular support for the measure in Crimea.

 

The Big Lie

Biden’s support for Ukraine’s membership in NATO contravened the firm promise given in 1990 to the last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, by James Baker, secretary of state to George H.W. Bush, that in return for Soviet conceding of the unification of Germany, NATO would never extend further east of the new European behemoth (RT, 2017). As vice-president, Biden had visited Ukraine six times in seven years. Biden had long advocated that Ukraine, along with other post-Soviet Russian states, become a member of NATO. Before any other consideration, this casts Biden’s relations with the current Ukraine regime in a very problematic light, a possibly deadly one for the future of the human species.

Explanation requires a revisit to the Obama administration and then-Vice President Biden’s support for the 2014 coup in Kiev and his later stern demands, delivered even in the Ukrainian Rada itself, that the succeeding coup regime of President Petro Poroshenko apply itself to anti-corruption efforts. These have been somewhat ineffective. In the absence of any very senior prosecutions, critics have suggested that the more important function of the West’s campaign against corruption in Ukraine has been to establish a network of new institutions — whose legitimacy derives from western pressure and which undermine the country’s existing, if ponderous legal system — while providing scope to local power holders in the corruption matrix for blackmail.

Victoria Nuland Ukraine

Obama staffer Victoria Nuland offers cookies to pro-EU protesters in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013. Andrew Kravchenko | AP

Corruption and supposed efforts to reduce it have become a neoconservative weapon of choice with which to operate the controls on the funding sluice gates to acolytes of the U.S.-led international neoconservative empire. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was offered a lucrative position on the board of Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company controlled by an oligarch, almost certainly because of his father’s prominence. The oligarch in question was Mykola Zlochevsky, former minister of natural resources under the allegedly “pro-Russian” Yanukovych. Trump administration figures claimed that Joe Biden had pressed the post-coup government of President Poroshenko to sack its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, to discourage him from investigating Burisma. Burisma had been under scrutiny for alleged improper acquisition of licenses (unrelated to Hunter Biden’s position on the board). Biden and a group of U.S. allies were said to have urged Shokin’s ouster in 2015, on the grounds that he was turning a blind eye to corruption. Shokin has claimed that his actions as general prosecutor did not suit Biden’s interests and that Biden was motivated by his son’s connection to Burisma.

 

Poroshenko and Zelensky

Ukraine’s two presidents since the 2014 coup, Petro Poroshenko (2014 to 2019) and Volodymyr Zelensky (2019 to the present), each started with strong support that quickly waned. The country has scarcely improved. Gross National Product peaked in December 2013; unemployment has increased from 7% to over 10%; Ukraine remains the second poorest country in Europe per capita.

Corruption, the supposed key force behind popular support for the elections of both Poroshenko and Zelensky, continues to be rampant. Kiev’s policies of stand-off with Russia have been dramatically counter-productive and have deprived Ukraine of Crimea and control of major industrial areas of the Donbass. Some 14,000 lives have been taken, 1.4 million people displaced, and 3.5 million remain in need of humanitarian assistance.

With Russia’s development of Nord Stream 2, bitterly contested by the U.S., Ukraine stands to lose $3 billion a year in transit fees that with more prudent negotiation it might have hoped to retain. Kiev administrations have been unwilling to progress the Minsk Protocol, agreed in 2015 to end the struggle in the Donbass and signed by Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Under the agreements, Ukraine was required to pardon the participants of the conflict, carry out local elections, and recognize a de facto autonomy of the region in the Constitution. Russia was obliged to return its equipment and mercenaries to Ukraine, ensure that local military formations laid down arms, and cede to Ukraine control over its border with Russia.

Ukraine has complained that, as warfare is ongoing, elections are hardly possible and that fair elections are not achievable before it secures control of the border. Russia insists that amnesty should be granted in advance of the elections and before Ukraine regains control of the border, while Ukraine considers that an amnesty can happen only after these events and after public discussion. The Kiev administration has been wedded to a highly centralized vision and finds the idea of greater regional autonomy repugnant. It claims that Russia supports greater autonomy because that gives it greater control over the Donbass. It would be truer to say that Ukraine is an ethnically riven polity in which the dominant ethnicity does not have sufficient political will to risk taking the only measures that can yield a lasting peace.

Ukraine Donetsk

Locals visit their homes to collect belongings after shelling near a frontline outside Donetsk, April 9, 2021. Photo | AP

Any indication that Poroshenko might move in the direction of Minsk provoked far-right paramilitary opposition. His successor, Zelensky, is a former comedian, a neoconservative cutout who achieved power on the basis not of actual policies but of the imaginary policies of his satirical show (aired on a channel owned by anti-Russian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky) — also the title of his political party, Servant of the People.

As Zelensky loses support (his party performed disastrously in local elections in November 2020 – it did not win a single mayoral race or even a majority in any regional parliament or city council), he has escalated action of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Donbass (despite some ministerial appointments that appear pro-Russian), in an apparent bid to establish greater political legitimacy for his party in western Ukraine but at the cost of a steeply rising number of weekly ceasefire violations. He has continued to collaborate in joint actions with NATO and allied forces in military exercises along the Russian border that appear designed to provoke Russia (whose 4,000 troops mustered there remain insufficient for invasion, given the estimated total number of 100,000 NATO and Ukrainian troops participating in exercises during 2021).

In recent months he has introduced measures to sanction pro-Russian opposition leaders, shut down pro-Russian media outlets owned by opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk, and restrict Russian language use, while he condemns opposition leaders who back a negotiated settlement with Moscow.

In March, Zelensky signed Presidential Decree No. 117/2021, declaring it was official Ukraine policy to take back Crimea. He approved plans to admit foreign troops for military exercises led by UN and NATO nations and asked NATO to monitor airspace across the border with Russia. His new military strategy emphasizes subjugation of Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea. In 2020, NATO designated Ukraine an “Enhanced Opportunity Partner,” giving it the same status as Georgia, Sweden, Finland, Australia and Jordan (Ritter, 2020), to promote the “partnership interoperability” initiative, which in effect means that NATO extends greater trust to Ukraine to follow NATO’s orders and interests.

Actual full membership in NATO is unlikely, given European opposition to this, the rift between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea, the persistence of corruption, and Ukraine’s dispute with Hungary over curbs on minority rights. Yet the lure is sufficient for Zelensky to offer Ukraine to NATO as a suitable battleground for possible nuclear war. Understandably, this enthusiasm for NATO is not shared by most Ukrainians.

Zelensky may believe, in the face of European opposition, that playing footstool to NATO aggression will secure full membership in NATO for Ukraine and NATO intervention in the Donbass to secure victory for the Armed Forces of Ukraine — despite the fact that Ukraine’s rift with Russia would need first to be resolved before full membership is possible under the conditions that must be met for membership, and even though direct NATO intervention would be tantamount to a declaration of war that could turn nuclear at any point. There is no conceivable advantage to the Ukraine, the U.S. or Russia in this scenario. But mad pursuit of idiotic objectives is de rigueur machismo among adherents to neoconservative ideology at the service of corporate and plutocratic power, much as it is for the politics of resistance to meaningful solutions to climate change.

Feature photo | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the war-hit Donbass region amid heightened tensions with Russia, April 9, 2021. UPPO via AP

Oliver Boyd-Barrett is Professor Emeritus at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is an expert on international media, news, and propaganda. His writings can be accessed by subscription at Substack.

The post From RussiaGate to UkraineGate: Route to Apocalypse appeared first on MintPress News.

Colonial Ties, Not Oppression, Is the Best Reason for Granting Asylum

This has been irritating me for some time now, and so I’m going to try to get it off my chest. A month or so ago I went to a Virtual meeting, organised by the left wing of the Labour party, on why socialists should be anti-war. It was part of the Arise Festival of ideas, and featured a variety of speakers all concerned with the real possibility that the war-mongering of Tony Blair, George W. Bush and so on would return. They made the point that all the interventions in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere were motivated purely by western geopolitical interests. Western nations and their multinationals had initiated them solely to plunder and dominate these nations and their industries and resources. One of the speakers was the Muslim head of the Stop War Coalition, who stated that many people from ethnic minorities had supported the Labour party because historically Labour had backed independence for their countries of origin. And obviously the Labour party was risking their support by betraying them through supporting these wars. After the failure of these wars – the continued occupation of Afghanistan, the chaos in Iraq and Libya – the calls for further military interventions had died down. But now these wars were being rehabilitated, and there is a real danger that the military-industrial complex will start demanding further invasions and occupations.

I absolutely agree totally with these points. Greg Palast’s book Armed Madhouse shows exactly how the Iraq invasion had absolutely nothing to do with liberating the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, but was all about stealing their oil reserves and state industries. The invasion of Afghanistan has precious little to do with combatting al-Qaeda, and far more to do with the construction of an oil pipeline that would benefit western oil interests at the expense of Russia and its allies. And the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafy in Libya was also about the removal of an obstacle to western neo-colonial domination. These wars have brought nothing but chaos and death to these countries. The welfare states of Iraq and Libya have been decimated, and the freedoms women enjoyed to pursue careers outside the home have been severely curtailed our removed. Both of these countries were relatively secular, but have since been plunged into sectarian violence.

Despite this, one of the speakers annoyed me. This was the head of the Black Liberation Association or whatever Black Lives Matter now calls itself. She was a young a woman with quite a thick African accent. It wasn’t quite what she said, but the tone in which she said it. This was one of angry, indignant and entitled demand, rather than calm, persuasive argument. She explained that the Black Liberation Association campaigned for the rights and self-government of all nations in the global south and their freedom from neo-colonial economic restrictions and domination. She attacked the ‘fortress Europe’ ideology intended to keep non-White immigrants out, especially the withdrawal of the Italian naval patrols in the Med. This had resulted in more migrant deaths as unseaworthy boats sank without their crews and passengers being rescued. This is all stuff the left has campaigned against for a long time. I remember learning in ‘A’ Level geography in school that Britain and Europe had erected tariff barriers to prevent their former colonies competing with them in the production of manufactured goods. This meant that the economies of the African nations, for example, were restricted to agriculture and mining. As for the withdrawal of the Italian navy and coastguard, and the consequent deaths of migrants, this was very much an issue a few years ago and I do remember signing internet petitions against it. But there was one argument she made regarding the issue of the granting of asylum that was weak and seriously annoyed me. She stated that we had to accept migrants because we had oppressed them under colonialism.

This actually doesn’t work as an argument for two reasons. I’m not disputing that we did oppress at least some of the indigenous peoples of our former colonies. The colour bar in White Rhodesia was notorious, and Black Africans in other countries, like Malawi, were treated as second class citizens quite apart from the horrific, genocidal atrocities committed against the Mao-Mao rebellion. The first problem with the argument from colonial oppression is that it raises the question why any self-respecting person from the Commonwealth would ever want to come to Britain, if we’re so racist and oppressive.

The other problem is that the British Empire is now, for the most part, a thing of the past. Former colonies across the globe formed nationalist movements and achieved their independence. They were supposed to benefit from the end of British rule. In some cases they have. But to return to Africa, since independence the continent has been dominated by a series of brutal dictators, who massacred and looted their people. There is an appalling level of corruption to the point where the FT said that many of them were kleptocracies, which were only called countries by the courtesy of the west. Western colonialism is responsible for many of the Developing World’s problems, but not all. I’ve heard from a couple of Brits, who have lived and worked in former colonies, that they have been asked by local people why we left. These were older people, but it shows that the end of British rule was not as beneficial as the nationalists claimed, and that some indigenous people continued to believe that things had been better under the Empire. But the culpability of the leaders of many developing nations for their brutal dictatorships and the poverty they helped to inflict on their people wasn’t mentioned by this angry young woman. And that’s a problem, because the counterargument to her is that the British Empire has vanished, and with the handover to indigenous rule British responsibility for these nations’ affairs ended. It is up to these countries to solve their problems, and we should be under no obligation to take in people fleeing oppression in these countries.

For me, a far better approach would be to stress old colonial ties and obligations with these nations. Part of the ideology of colonialism was that Britain held these countries in trust, and that these nations would only remain under British rule until they developed the ability to manage themselves. It was hypocritical, and I think there’s a quote from Lord Lugard, one of the architects of British rule in Africa, about how the British had only a few decades to despoil the country. Nevertheless, it was there, as was Kipling’s metaphor of the ‘White Man’s Burden’, in which Britain was to teach these nations proper self-government and civilisation. It’s patronising, because it assumes the superiority of western civilisation, but nevertheless it is one of paternal responsibility and guidance. And some British politicians and imperialists took this ideology very seriously. I was told by a friend of mine that before Enoch Powell became an avowed and implacable opponent of non-White immigration with his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, he sincerely believed that Britain did have an obligation to its subject peoples. He worked for a number of organisations set up to help non-White immigrants to Britain from her colonies.

It therefore seems to me that supporters of non-White migrants and asylum seekers would be far better arguing that they should be granted asylum because of old colonial ties and kinship in the Commonwealth and continuing paternal obligations, rather than allowed in as some kind of reparation for the oppression of the colonial past.

The first argument offers reconciliation and common links. The other only angry division between oppressed and oppressor.

The Big Cats, Part XII

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 31/03/2021 - 2:00am in

Tags 

poetry, culture, Russia

“The Big Cats” is an ongoing poetry cycle written and read by Val Vinokur, and published weekly at Public Seminar. For...

Read More

Russia and China Are Sending Biden a Message: Don’t Judge Us or Try to Change us. Those Days Are Over

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/03/2021 - 9:00pm in

The initial Biden foreign policy backfires are leading to even more cooperation betwen China and Russia.

World Bank recommends GMI to reduce the poverty rate in Russia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/03/2021 - 1:42am in

Tags 

News, Russia

In Russia, as in many other countries, social benefits do not always reach those who need them. The problem has existed for a long time, and during the pandemic the number of poor people has only increased. In an article on 11 February 2021 in Forbes Russia “A New Contract: how to reduce poverty rate […]

Medea Benjamin: 10 Things Wrong With Biden’s Foreign Policy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 8:55pm in

Medea Benjamin explains why the Biden administration seems firmly entrenched behind Trump’s walls of hostility.

Video: US Escalates New Cold War as Diplomatic Gloves Come Off, with Carl Zha

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 6:32am in

The new Cold War has escalated over the past week as U.S. attempts to dominate both China and Russia backfired in embarrassing fashion for the Biden administration. Behind The Headlines’ Dan Cohen is joined by “Silk and Steel” podcast host Carl Zha to discuss the diplomatic fiasco, how U.S. intelligence and media cornered Biden into denouncing Russia, and the Quad Alliance’s political contradictions.

Feature photo | Graphic by Antonio Cabrera

Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000.

The post Video: US Escalates New Cold War as Diplomatic Gloves Come Off, with Carl Zha appeared first on MintPress News.

Human Rights Are Back on the Agenda

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 2:16am in

Human rights and democracy are high on the Biden administration's foreign policy agenda. Continue reading

The post Human Rights Are Back on the Agenda appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

US Intel Thinks You’re Stupid: ODNI Report Blames Russia, Ignores Colombian Election Interference

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/03/2021 - 7:18am in

Tags 

Colombia, Iran, Russia

WASHINGTON — Russiagate is back! That’s right. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) says Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei meddled in the 2020 U.S. election. But not only they: Lebanese Hezbollah, Cuba and Venezuela did it too.

I know what you’re thinking: Where is the evidence? Well, the ODNI report doesn’t show any. But phrases like “we judge,”“we assess,” “probably,” and “likely” are used dozens of times. Apparently for corporate media, that’s good enough.

Never mind that, way down on the last page, the report says “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”

So it’s the opinion, the estimation of the intelligence agencies.

 

A 180-degree change of heart?

The very same intelligence agencies that somehow missed that a giant mob of Trump supporters were openly planning to storm the Capitol building on January 6th. Or that said there was going to be a QAnon attack on the Capitol on March 4th that never happened. Or that told us back in November that Russia didn’t influence the election – the polar opposite of what they’re telling us now.

“There was no fraud, there were no irregularities,” commented former CIA chief of staff and CNN analyst Jeremy Bash.

“Various agencies have come out to say there was no widespread fraud in this election,” remarked CNN White House correspondent Pamela Brown.

“This has been the safest, most secure election we have ever had. We also know that Russia largely did not play in this election,” declared former Obama aide Chris Lu.

“It was remarkable. We didn’t see the kind of disinformation or disruption that we were worried about from Russia, if not China,” assured former Department of Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem.

“2020 was a very secure election,” declared former National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster.

But that’s all been memory-holed because the intelligence community and news media think the public has the memory of a goldfish.

 

When Russian “propaganda” happens to be the plain truth

The report says that Russia’s primary effort was “alleging corrupt ties between President Joe Biden, his family and other U.S. officials in Ukraine.” Clearly, that’s a reference to Biden overseeing the 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine and then putting his son Hunter on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, where he collected an $80,000 paycheck every month despite having no background in energy.

That’s right, if you think that’s corruption, you’re getting played by Putin.

The report also claims that Russian online influence actors played a tricky double game. Not only did they “promote former President [Donald] Trump and his commentary… At the same time, Russian actors criticized former President Trump or his administration when they pursued foreign policies – such as the targeted killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.”

So if you thought that it was maybe a bad idea to start a war with Iran, you’re under the influence of Russian propaganda.

And when Joe Biden said about the killing of Solemani, “The haphazard decision making process that led up it, the failure to consult with our allies or Congress, and the reckless disregard for the consequences that would surely follow was in my view dangerously incompetent,” he was actually promoting Russian propaganda.

So were Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg

 

US ally gets a pass

But maybe what’s most remarkable is not what’s in the ODNI report, but what isn’t.

By the standards of the U.S. government, multiple elected officials in the party of Colombian President Ivan Duque brazenly interfered in the election against Biden.

Senator Carlos Felipe Mejia tweeted this video of a Trump speech attacking Biden. Congressman Juan David Velez quote-tweeted Trump saying “We will make Colombia great again.”

Or Senator Maria Fernanda Cabal, who in one blog post heralded Trump as leader of the never-ending struggle against socialism and wrote that Biden is leading the way towards the radical wing of the Democratic Party’s socialist vision. On her Instagram, she posted a cartoon portraying Biden as a trojan horse for Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  – whom she considers socialists. Here she portrayed Trump as an anti-communist warrior against Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and Nicolas Maduro.

The interference from Colombia’s far-right was happening so frequently that the U.S. Embassy in Colombia felt it necessary to warn them to not interfere in the election. And two Democratic members of Congress wrote an op-ed asking the Colombians to stop interfering.

On her blog, Maria Fernanda Cabal pointed out that the U.S. government didn’t take issue with former President Juan Manuel Santos saying he preferred Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. Granted, that was a much more diplomatic approach than the rabid anti-communism of Maria Fernanda Cabal and was ostensibly based on Santos’s desire for the Colombian peace accord to succeed. But nonetheless, by the standards of the intelligence report, Santos’s endorsement of Clinton should be construed as interference.

 

“Election integrity” as a foil for geopolitical agenda

So why does the so-called intelligence community tell us that State Department-designated Official Enemy countries tried to interfere in the elections without providing a shred of evidence while ignoring the mounds of evidence that the U.S.’s closest ally in Latin America repeatedly interfered?

It’s because accusations of interference have nothing to do with protecting election integrity and everything to do with advancing a narrow, imperialist political agenda.

See, back in late January, Biden had signed an arms treaty with Russia – a necessary step to prevent a hot war, but bad for the image the spy agencies and Western media present of Russia as an evil empire. And the evidence-free media frenzies about Russia poisoning Alexei Navalny, hacking U.S. government agencies, and paying the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, which had been dominating the 24 hours news cycle, were getting stale.

So the ODNI report is a fresh injection of Russiagate bullshit into the bloodstream of American politics, one that prompted Biden to talk tough against Putin, even if George Stephanopolous has to demand it.

If it wasn’t clear before, Russiagate is a permanent feature of American politics. It’s too useful to the intelligence agencies and war industry, no matter how transparent the lies are.

Feature photo | Graphic by Antonio Cabrera

Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000.

The post US Intel Thinks You’re Stupid: ODNI Report Blames Russia, Ignores Colombian Election Interference appeared first on MintPress News.

GOP Clinging to Their January 6th Lie

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/03/2021 - 1:51am in

The events of January 6 left several people, including three police officers, dead, and more than 100 law enforcement officers wounded. Hundreds of people have been charged with crimes. Continue reading

The post GOP Clinging to Their January 6th Lie appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Pages