Fue la elección del milenio, chicos. En el corazón del Imperio había que votar por Nerón o por Calígula. Difícil, eh? Al final ganó Calígula (foto). A un día de la asunción de Donald Trump como nuevo mandamás de los EEUU, reproducimos dos notas del profesor Gary Leupp publicadas recientemente en el sitio web Counterpunch. En la primera se pasa revista a la diversa gama de gente descontenta con el próximo presidente, por izquierda y por derecha. En la segunda secomenta la demencial nueva Guerra Fría que quiere imponerse entre el Imperio y los rusos. No se las pierdan; el tipo escribe muy bien.
Título: The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Texto: It is an extraordinary situation. The ruling class seems by and large quite shocked by the election result. Donald Trump is surely a representative of the class—in that he’s a billionaire for god sake—but, for the majority of the richest and most powerful, not their preferred choice as chief executive of the USA. This is apparent by Trump’s treatment at the hands of the corporate media (that he continues to insult), by the foreign policy establishment, by the intelligence agencies (which he sometimes disparages), by Congressional leaders of both parties who generally regret that he won. The Deep State seems to have its knives drawn for him.
Wall Street would have been comfortable—equally comfortable—with Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton as president. The RNC and DNC—the Central Committees of the official Two Parties—are huge concentrations of bourgeois power. Reince Priebus and Debbie Schulz Wasserman as their chairs were creatures of the status quo. The pundits favored Bush to win the Republican nomination, or maybe Cruz (despite his unpopularity among his peers), or maybe Rubio; Trump was an amusing long shot. And of course they assumed that Clinton would be the Democratic shoo-in. What could go wrong?
Things started to go wrong when the Trump campaign, treated to limitless free media exposure, spiraled out of control. The more outrageous Trump became, the more he attracted, first the Neanderthals, and then the more thoughtful types who thought, “Hm, looks like he could win. He’s awful, but at least he’s better than her.” And there are always plenty of opportunists like Giuliani, Christie and Carson willing to jump on a bandwagon that looks headed to possible victory.
In alarm, prominent Republicans including Mitt Romney expressed open disdain. In August 50 GOP former intelligence officers signed a statement opposing Trump, including CIA and National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Director of National Intelligence and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, former Dick Cheney security adviser Eric Edelman, former Homeland Security secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, and former deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick. In October 55 retired flag military officers signed a statement declaring Trump “utterly unworthy of being commander-in-chief and president.” House Speaker Paul Ryan, the most powerful figure at the time in the Republican Party, who only endorsed Trump in June, was by one count obliged to distance himself from the candidate eight times by August and declined to campaign for him.
Alas, despite all this confusion and alarm within the ruling class, the Trump genie had been let out of the bottle.
And what of Clinton’s smooth path to power, to be paved by such experienced political operatives as campaign director John Podesta and Wasserman Schulz? Something started going very wrong when Bernie Sanders kept getting massive youthful crowds who were anything but turned off by an elderly Jewish socialist talking about college debt relief. They were so confidant of the pervasiveness of their own tired Cold War thinking among the masses that they assumed no self-avowed socialist could gather any momentum. The fools!
And then there were those Wikileaks emails (allegedly hacked by Russians) showing how the DNC chair had assured her colleagues that they needn’t be “silly,” because Sanders “won’t be president”; how one staffer had raised the prospect of labeling Sanders an atheist in largely evangelical districts; how Podesta had recommended using press contacts to promote Trump as one of the more easily defeatable of the Republican candidates.
This plus the (separate) issue of Hillary’s use of a home server for emails, and alleged violations of security policy and accountability, and Comey’s sudden reopening of the investigation so soon before the election. There was no enthusiasm for Clinton, and especially among the youth, a lot of simmering resentment that the primary process had been rigged. If the Clinton camp smugly expected the Sanders supporters (having been “brought into the political process”) would channel their much-praised “enthusiasm” into a Clinton vs. Trump race, they were optimistic. Many enraged Sanders supporters would never defile themselves with a Clinton vote.
And so, a corrupt process produced a uniquely unpopular president-elect. And now you have a unique convergence of forces all questioning Trump’s legitimacy to rule, but for different reasons.
Rep. John Lewis says he can’t accept Trump because Russia helped him get elected; his vow to boycott the inauguration ceremony has been embraced (so far) by over 40 other members of Congress. Similarly, the Deep State can’t accept him because he wants rapprochement with Russia. Suddenly all the liberal shills on TV are expressing reverence for Lewis’s civil rights legacy and associations with Martin Luther King alongside moral outrage at the charges leveled against Moscow by the Deep State. How strange to see Rachel Maddow and John Brennan in bed together.
There will be tens of thousands of protesters on the cold streets of DC on Friday chanting “He’s not my president!” mostly for the reasons touted endlessly by the DNC: he’s a racist, misogynist, bigot, who lost the popular vote. Some will add to the charges “He’s a Putin puppet,” thus making common cause with the worst war mongers who remain firmly lodged in the power structure and (despite his promises of good relations with Russia) around Trump himself.
The Revolutionary Communist Party on the other hand says we can’t accept Trump because he’s a fascist. Their manifesto calling for mass protests to “reach a crescendo January 20” declares:
“By any definition, Trump is a fascist… [Fascism] is a very serious thing. It has direction and momentum and must be stopped before it becomes too late. Fascism foments and relies on xenophobic nationalism, racism, misogyny, and the aggressive re-institution of oppressive ‘traditional values.’ Fascism feeds on and encourages the threat and use of violence to build a movement and come to power. Fascism, once in power, essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights. Fascism attacks, jails, even executes its opponents, and launches violent mob attacks on ‘minorities.’ In Nazi Germany in the 1930s and ’40s, fascism did all these things. This is where this can go.”
No mention of any supposed Putin-Trump “bromance.” Not that there should be. But the radical left—preoccupied with opposing more imperialist wars in the Middle East—is not much given to analysis of the U.S.-Russian relationship, or reflection on the very real possibility of nuclear war triggered by events in Ukraine, Syria or even the Estonia.
The U.S. possesses 7,100 nuclear warheads, Russia 7,300. (France is thought to have 300, China 260, the UK 215, Pakistan 140, India 110, Israel 80, North Korea 8.) A U.S.-Russian war could destroy civilization, not by blowing up monuments and orchestrating acts of exemplary horror, raping, crucifying and beheading children, but by obliterating whole cities the way the U.S. obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No, worse, much, much worse next time than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
That Trump’s few vague words about friendship with (as opposed to belligerency towards) Russia should set him up for this “Putin’s puppet” charge quietly intimated on the one hand by voices within the Deep State hoping to shame Trump into towing the new Cold war line, and on the other hand by John Lewis-type liberals eager to hop on the Cold War bandwagon to justify their rejection of the president-elect, should disturb any thinking person. It is the patriotic union of all who can be united over the traditional, knee-jerk Russophobia.
How can the progressive anti-Trump movement move forward, if it either embraces this narrative of Russian “interference in the U.S. election” (which is based, after all, on the premise that whoever leaked the damning DNC and Podesta messages showing how the DNC worked to promote Trump’s candidacy, and to curtail Sanders’ support, thereby influenced public opinion against Clinton whereas public opinion should have been mercifully spared the information), or fails to target it as misinformation and war mongering?
If the goal is to so isolate Trump that he is somehow driven from power, one would like the antiwar masses to smash the corrupt system, build a new society and avoid war. One would not like to make common cause with those who hate Trump, not for his fascistic tendencies, but for his challenge to the warmongering neocon/liberal interventionist status quo that wants to maintain a posture of unremitting hostility towards Russia.
Without analyzing these dialectics, how can those who long for revolution—as I do—navigate the post-election political situation, and exploit the crisis to serve the people’s ends?
Título: The Utter Stupidity of the New Cold War
Texto: It seems so strange, twenty-seven years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, to be living through a new Cold War with (as it happens, capitalist) Russia.
The Russian president is attacked by the U.S. political class and media as they never attacked Soviet leaders; he is personally vilified as a corrupt, venal dictator, who arrests or assassinates political opponents and dissident journalists, and is hell-bent on the restoration of the USSR.
(The latter claim rests largely on Vladimir Putin’s comment that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a “catastrophe” and “tragedy”—which in many respects it was. The press chooses to ignore his comment that “Anyone who does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart, while anyone who wants to restore it has no brain.” It conflicts with the simple talking-point that Putin misses the imperial Russia of the tsars if not the commissars and, burning with resentment over the west’s triumph in the Cold War, plans to exact revenge through wars of aggression and territorial expansion.)
The U.S. media following its State Department script depicts Russia as an expansionist power. That it can do so, so successfully, such that even rather progressive people—such as those appalled by Trump’s victory who feel inclined to blame it on an external force—believe it, is testimony to the lingering power and utility of the Cold War mindset.
The military brass keep reminding us: We are up against an existential threat! One wants to say that this—obviously—makes no sense! Russia is twice the size of the U.S. with half its population. Its foreign bases can be counted on two hands. The U.S. has 800 or so bases abroad.
Russia’s military budget is 14% of the U.S. figure. It does not claim to be the exceptional nation appointed by God to preserve “security” on its terms anywhere on the globe. Since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the U.S. has waged war (sometimes creating new client-states) in Bosnia (1994-5), Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001- ), Iraq (2003- ), Libya (2011), and Syria (2014- ), while raining down drone strikes from Pakistan to Yemen to North Africa. These wars-based-on-lies have produced hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, millions of refugees, and general ongoing catastrophe throughout the “Greater Middle East.” There is no understating their evil.
The U.S. heads an expanding military alliance formed in 1949 to confront the Soviet Union and global communism in general. Its raison d’être has been dead for many years. Yet it has expanded from 16 to 28 members since 1999, and new members Estonia and Latvia share borders with Russia.
(Imagine the Warsaw Pact expanding to include Mexico. But no, the Warsaw Pact of the USSR and six European allies was dissolved 26 years ago in the idealistic expectation that NATO would follow in a new era of cooperation and peace.)
And this NATO alliance, in theory designed to defend the North Atlantic, was only first deployed after the long (and peaceful) first Cold War, in what had been neutral Yugoslavia (never a member of either the Warsaw Pact nor NATO), Afghanistan (over 3000 miles from the North Atlantic), and the North African country of Libya. Last summer NATO held its most massive military drills since the collapse of the Soviet Union, involving 31,000 troops in Poland, rehearsing war with Russia. (The German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier actually criticized this exercise as “warmongering.”)
Alliance officials expressed outrage when Russia responded to the warmongering by placing a new S-400 surface-to-air missiles and nuclear-capable Iskander systems on its territory of Kaliningrad between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic coast. But Russia has in fact been comparatively passive in a military sense during this period.
In 1999, as NATO was about to occupy the Serbian province of Kosovo (soon to be proclaimed an independent country, in violation of international law), nearby Russian peacekeepers raced to the airport in Pristina, Kosovo, to secure it an ensure a Russian role in the Serbiam province’s future. It was a bold move that could have provoked a NATO-Russian clash. But the British officer on the ground wisely refused an order from Gen. Wesley Clark to block the Russian move, declaring he would not start World War III for Gen. Clark.
This, recall, was after Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright (remember, the Hillary shill who said there’s a special place in hell reserved for women who don’t vote for women) presented to the Russian and Serbian negotiators at Rambouillet a plan for NATO occupation of not just Kosovo but all Serbia. It was a ridiculous demand, rejected by the Serbs and Russians, but depicted by unofficial State Department spokesperson and warmonger Christiane Amanpour as the “will of the international community.” As though Russia was not a member of the international community!
This Pristina airport operation was largely a symbolic challenge to U.S. hegemony over the former Yugoslavia, a statement of protest that should have been taken seriously at the time.
In any case, the new Russian leader Putin was gracious after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, even offering NATO a military transport corridor through Russia to Afghanistan (closed in 2015). He was thanked by George W. Bush with the expansion of NATO by seven more members in 2004. (The U.S. press made light of this extraordinary geopolitical development; it saw and continues to see the expansion of NATO as no more problematic than the expansion of the UN or the European Union.) Then in April 2008 NATO announced that Georgia would be among the next members accepted into the alliance.
Soon the crazy Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili, emboldened by the promise of near-term membership, provoked a war with the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, which had never accepted inclusion of the new Georgian state established upon the dissolution of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991. The Ossetians, fearing resurgent Georgian nationalism, had sought union with the Russian Federation. So had the people of Abkhazia.
The two “frozen conflicts,” between the Georgian state and these peoples, had been frozen due to the deployment of Russian and Georgian peacekeepers. Russia had not recognized these regions as independent states nor agreed to their inclusion in the Russian Federation. But when Russian soldiers died in the Georgian attack ion August, Russia responded with a brief punishing invasion. It then recognized of the two new states (six months after the U.S. recognized Kosovo).
(Saakashvili, in case you’re interested, was voted out of power, disgraced, accused of economic crimes, and deprived of his Georgian citizenship. After a brief stint at the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University—of which I as a Tufts faculty member feel deeply ashamed—he was appointed as governor of Odessa in Ukraine by the pro-NATO regime empowered by the U.S.-backed coup of February 22, 2014.)
Sen. John McCain proclaimed in 2008: “We are all Georgians now,” and advocated U.S. military aid to the Georgian regime. An advocate of war as a rule, McCain then became a big proponent of regime change in Ukraine to allow for that country’s entry into NATO. Neocons in the State Department including most importantly McCain buddy Victoria Nuland, boasted of spending $ 5 billion in support of “the Ukrainian people’s European aspirations” (meaning: the desire of many Ukrainians in the western part of the country to join the European Union—risking, although they perhaps do not realize it, a reduction in their standard of living under a Greek-style austerity program—to be followed by NATO membership, tightening the military noose around Russia).
The Ukrainian president opted out in favor of a generous Russian aid package. That decision—to deny these “European aspirations”—was used to justify the coup.
But look at it from a Russian point of view. Just look at this map, of the expanding NATO alliance, and imagine it spreading to include that vast country (the largest in Europe, actually) between Russia to the east and Poland to the west, bordering the Black Sea to the south. The NATO countries at present are shown in dark blue, Ukraine and Georgia in green. Imagine those countries’ inclusion.
And imagine NATO demanding that Russia vacate its Sevastopol naval facilities, which have been Russian since 1783, turning them over to the (to repeat: anti-Russian) alliance. How can anyone understand the situation in Ukraine without grasping this basic history?
The Russians denounced the coup against President Viktor Yanukovych (democratically elected—if it matters—in 2010), which was abetted by neo-fascists and marked from the outset by an ugly Russophobic character encouraged by the U.S. State Department. The majority population in the east of the country, inhabited by Russian-speaking ethnic Russians and not even part of Ukraine until 1917, also denounced the coup and refused to accept the unconstitutional regime that assumed power after Feb. 22.
When such people rejected the new government, and declared their autonomy, the Ukrainian army was sent in to repress them but failed, embarrassingly, when the troops confronted by angry babushkas turned back. The regime since has relied on the neo-fascist Azov Battalion to harass secessionists in what has become a new “frozen conflict.”
Russia has no doubt assisted the secessionists while refusing to annex Ukrainian territory, urging a federal system for the country to be negotiated by the parties. Russian families straddle the Russian-Ukrainian border. There are many Afghan War veterans in both countries. The Soviet munitions industry integrated Russian and Ukrainian elements. One must assume there are more than enough Russians angry about such atrocities as the May 2014 killing of 42 ethnic Russian government opponents in Odessa to bolster the Donbas volunteers.
But there is little evidence (apart from a handful of reports about convoys of dozens of “unmarked military vehicles” from Russia in late 2014) for a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine. And the annexation of Crimea (meaning, its restoration to its 1954 status as Russian territory) following a credible referendum did not require any “invasion” since there were already 38,000 Russian troops stationed there. All they had to do was to secure government buildings, and give Ukrainian soldiers the option of leaving or joining the Russian military. (A lot of Ukrainian soldiers opted to stay and accept Russian citizenship.)
Still, these two incidents—the brief 2008 war in Georgia, and Moscow’s (measured) response to the Ukrainian coup since 2014—have been presented as evidence of a general project to disrupt the world order by military expansion, requiring a firm U.S. response. The entirety of the cable news anchor class embraces this narrative.
But they are blind fools. Who has in this young century disrupted world order more than the U.S., wrecking whole countries, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocents, provoking more outrage through grotesquely documented torture, generating new terror groups, and flooding Europe with refugees who include some determined to sow chaos and terror in European cities? How can any rational person with any awareness of history since 1991 conclude that Russia is the aggressive party?
And yet, this is the conventional wisdom. I doubt you can get a TV anchor job if you question it. The teleprompter will refer routinely to Putin’s aggression and Russian expansion and the need for any mature presidential candidate to respect the time-honored tradition of supporting NATO no matter what. And now the anchor is expected to repeat that all 17 U.S. intelligence services have concluded that Vladimir Putin interfered in the U.S. presidential election.
Since there is zero evidence for this, one must conclude that the Democratic losers dipped into the reliable grab bag of scapegoats and posited that Russia and Putin in particular must have hacked the DNC in order to—through the revelation of primary sources of unquestionable validity, revealing the DNC’s determination to make Clinton president, while sabotaging Sanders and promoting (through their media surrogates) Donald Trump as the Republican candidate—undermine Clinton’s legitimacy.
All kinds of liberals, including Sanders’ best surrogates like Nina Turner, are totally on board the Putin vilification campaign. It is sad and disturbing that so many progressive people are so willing to jump on the new Cold War bandwagon. It is as though they have learned nothing from history but are positively eager, in their fear and rage, to relive the McCarthy era.
But the bottom line is: U.S. Russophobia does not rest on reason, judgment, knowledge of recent history and the ability to make rational comparisons. It rests on religious-like assumptions of “American exceptionalism” and in particular the right of the U.S. to expand militarily at Russia’s expense—-as an obvious good in itself, rather than a distinct, obvious evil threatening World War III.
The hawks in Congress—bipartisan, amoral, ignorant, knee-jerk Israel apologists, opportunist scum—are determined to dissuade the president-elect (bile rises in my throat as I use that term, but it’s true that he’s that, technically) from any significant rapprochement with Russia. (Heavens, they must be horrified at the possibility that Trump follows Kissinger’s reported advice and recognizes the Russian annexation of Crimea!) They want to so embarrass him with the charge of being (as Hillary accused him of being during the campaign) Putin’s “puppet” that he backs of from his vague promise to “get along” with Russia.
They don’t want to get along with Russia. They want more NATO expansion, more confrontation. They are furious with Russian-Syrian victories over U.S-backed, al-Qaeda-led forces in Syria, especially the liberation of Aleppo that the U.S. media (1) does not cover having no reporters on the ground, and little interest since events in Syria so powerfully challenge the State Department’s talking points that shape U.S. reporting, (2) misreports systematically, as the tragic triumph of the evil, Assad’s victory over an imaginary heroic opposition, and (3) sees the strengthening of the position of the Syrian stats as an indication of Russia’s reemergence as a superpower. (This they they cannot accept, as virtually a matter of religious conviction; the U.S. in official doctrine must maintain “full spectrum dominance” over the world and prohibit the emergence of any possible competitor, forever.)
The first Cold War was based on the western capitalists’ fear of socialist expansion. It was based on the understanding that the USSR had defeated the Nazis, had extraordinary prestige in the world, and was the center for a time of the expanding global communist movement. It was based on the fear that more and more countries would achieve independence from western imperialism, denying investors their rights to dominate world markets. It had an ideological content. This one does not. Russia and the U.S. are equally committed to capitalism and neoliberal ideology. Their conflict is of the same nature as the U.S. conflict with Germany in the early 20th century. The Kaiser’s Germany was at least as “democratic” as the U.S.; the system was not the issue. It was just jockeying for power, and as it happened, the U.S. intervening in World War I belatedly, after everybody else was exhausted, cleaned up. In World War II in Europe, the U.S. having hesitated to invade the continent despite repeated Soviet appeals to do so, responded to the fall of Berlin to Soviet forces by rushing token forces to the city to claim joint credit.
And then it wound up, after the war, establishing its hegemony over most of Europe—much, much more of Europe than became the Soviet-dominated zone, which has since with the Warsaw Pact evaporated. Russia is a truncated, weakened version of its former self. It is not threatening the U.S. in any of the ways the U.S. is threatening itself. It is not expanding a military alliance. It is not holding huge military exercises on the U.S. border. It is not destroying the Middle East through regime-change efforts justified to the American people by sheer misinformation. In September 2015 Putin asked the U.S., at the United Nations: “Do you realize what you’ve done?”
Unfortunately the people of this country are not educated, by their schools, press or even their favorite websites to realize what has been done, how truly horrible it is, and how based it all is on lies. Fake news is the order of the day.
Up is down, black is white, Russia is the aggressor, the U.S. is the victim. The new president must be a team-player, and for God’s sake, understand that Putin is today’s Hitler, and if Trump wants to get along with him, he will have to become a team-player embracing this most basic of political truths in this particular imperialist country: Russia (with its nukes, which are equally matched with the U.S. stockpile) is the enemy, whose every action must be skewed to inflame anti-Russian feeling, as the normative default sentiment towards this NATO-encircled, sanction-ridden, non-threatening nation, under what seems by comparison a cautious, rational leadership?
CNN’s horrible “chief national correspondent” John King (former husband of equally horrid Dana Bash, CNN’s “chief political correspondent”) just posed the question, with an air of aggressive irritation: “Who does Donald Trump respect more, the U.S. intelligence agencies, or the guy who started Wikileaks [Assange]?”
It’s a demand for the Trump camp to buy the Russian blame game, or get smeared as a fellow-traveler with international whistle-blowers keen on exposing the multiple crimes of U.S. imperialism.
So the real question is: Will Trump play ball, and credit the “intelligence community” that generates “intelligence products” on demand, or brush aside the war hawks’ drive for a showdown with Putin’s Russia? Will the second Cold War peter out coolly, or culminate in the conflagration that “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD) was supposed to render impossible?
The latter would be utterly stupid. But stupid people—or wise people, cynically exploiting others’ stupidity— are shaping opinion every day, and have been since the first Cold War, based like this one on innumerable lies.