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Here’s why Vladimir Putin prefers Francois Fillon to Le Pen as President of France

Hardheaded calculation of Russian national interest unquestionably makes President Putin prefer Francois Fillon as President of France.

Alexander Mercouris

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Unlike the British election, which interests them not at all, the Russians are following the French election closely.

President Putin will never say publicly who he wants to win the French election.  If pressed he will say – rightly – that it is none of his business, and that he will work with whoever the French people elect for their President.  I suspect he even says this in private to his officials.

In the privacy of his Kremlin office or in his office in Novo Ogaryovo, during the solitary meditative periods which like all successful leaders Putin likes to engage in, Putin however undoubtedly asks himself which of the four front-runners – Fillon, Le Pen, Mélenchon, and Macron – would suit Russia best.  I have no doubt what his answer is: Fillon.

This may come as a surprise to many people, who assume that Le Pen or Mélenchon – both hostile to the US, Germany and the EU, both in favour of close relations with Russia, both supportive of Russia’s stand in Ukraine (Le Pen especially so), and both opposed to sanctions – would suit Putin and Russia better.

Le Pen in particular has spoken out strongly of recognising Crimea as part of Russia and in support of the people of the Donbass, and has made no secret of her strong support for better relations with Russia.  Indeed her foreign policy positions on many issues are all but identical to those of Putin and Russia.  Indeed there is a vocal campaign in the West to paint her as “Putin’s candidate” and to say that he bankrolls her.

In reality, though Putin must like many of things Le Pen and Mélenchon say, they are almost certainly not his preferred choice for French President.

From Putin’s point of view the problem  that either Le Pen or Mélenchon poses is that it is far from clear if they won the election that they would be able to consolidate their positions and do successfully any of the things they say they want to do.  In both cases their election would be bound to trigger passionate resistance from the French and European establishments and from a part of the French population, which could easily spill over into economic destabilisation, protests and crisis.

Putin does not want a France wracked by crisis.  Nor – contrary to what many say – does he want France to pull out of NATO or the EU, or to have Europe in crisis.  At this point in Russia’s history what Putin wants is stability in Europe and France.

In the case of Europe, the EU is still Russia’s main trading partner and is likely to remain so for some time.  It is not in Russia’s economic interest that it break up or become destabilised, which would only cause more problems for Russia’s economy at a time when it is coming out of recession.

More importantly, Putin and his advisers much be concerned that an uncontrolled crisis in Europe would have unpredictable consequences.  Given the level of Russophobia in Europe a crisis might easily lead to a situation in Europe more dangerous for Russia than the present very unsatisfactory but nonetheless stable one.   This after all was what happened during the great world crisis before the Second World War, when the hostile but peaceful Europe of the 1920s was replaced by an even more hostile but far more violent and aggressive Europe in the 1930s.

What Putin wants is a strong France in a stable Europe able to counter-balance US and German influence within the EU.  However he wants it to be a France which has turned its back on the geopolitical neocon/neoliberal ‘regime change’ Atlanticist adventurism that France has followed during the Sarkozy and Hollande era – which has had such calamitous results in Libya, Ukraine, Syria and countless other places, and which has brought Europe’s relations with Russia to the point of crisis – and which has returned to its traditional foreign policy of seeking to balance US and German influence in Europe by maintaining close and friendly relations with Russia.

This was the French foreign policy followed by De Gaulle, Giscard d’Estaing and Jacques Chirac, and at this present point in Russian history – with the process of Eurasian construction still very much a work in progress – it is the French foreign policy that suits Russia best.

The person who epitomises this foreign policy best and who is most likely to carry it out is François Fillon, who has the further advantage in Putin’s eyes of being someone who – unlike Le Pen and Mélenchon – Putin knows well and likes.  For that reason he is the person Putin would most want to see President of France.

Fillon has pitched his foreign policy positions at precisely the level Putin currently wants.  He is not threatening a potentially destabilising diplomatic revolution such as the ones promised – or threatened – by Le Pen and Mélenchon.  He has however made very clear his strong disagreement with the Atlanticist ‘regime change’ policies of the Sarkozy and Hollande era, and his support for a rapprochement with Russia.

Fillon has also spoken of lifting EU sanctions against Russia.  Contrary to conventional wisdom in the West, this is not however a priority for Putin or Russia.

On the one hand lifting the sanctions would hand the Russia a very considerable political and diplomatic victory, and they would no doubt savour it.  However that must be counter-balanced against the fact that lifting the sanctions would put pressure on the Russians to reverse the protectionist measures they have taken in response to them – such as the ban on food imports from the EU – which have been so beneficial to their economy.

In the privacy of his Kremlin office and in his office in Novo Ogaryovo I suspect Putin not only thinks this but in this case actually says it quite openly to his officials, and that he and they on balance would prefer the sanctions to stay, foregoing the ephemeral pleasures of a diplomatic triumph in return for the tangible and long-lasting economic benefits they bring.  I cannot help but wonder whether the repeated statements by Russian officials that they expect the sanctions to stay might actually be a reflection of this.

Certainly if the choice is between maintaining the sanctions and a cut-back in French and EU support for the Maidan regime in Ukraine and regime change in Syria, I have no doubt Putin would prefer to keep the sanctions in return for a cut-back in French and EU support for the Maidan regime in Ukraine and for regime change in Syria.  Moreover in the case of such a clear-cut choice I have no doubt Putin would be willing to say it publicly.

All this clearly points to Fillon as Putin’s preferred choice as the next President of France.  I suspect that this is well understood within France’s and Europe’s Atlanticist establishment, which is why there has been such a sustained attempt to destabilise Fillon by cobbling together a ‘scandal’ to stop him.

Before concluding this discussion, which may surprise and disappoint some people, I would make two further points:

Firstly, Putin’s undoubted preference for Fillon reflects Russia’s national interests.

This is not identical to France’s or Europe’s interests.  Those who think that one of the other candidates – Le Pen, Mélenchon or even Macron – is more right for France, Europe or indeed the world, have no need to change their views because of what Putin thinks.

On the subject of who is actually the best choice for President of France, I have been especially struck by the interesting commentary of Diana Johnstone and Adam Garrie.

Secondly, whilst I have no doubt that Putin considers Fillon the optimal choice for French President from the point of Russia’s current national interest, it is important to say that this may not always be so, and indeed it may not be so for much longer.

As the Russian economy strengthens, as the global positions of the Russian-Chinese alliance strengthen, as the process of Eurasian construction accelerates, and as what old-fashioned Russians still like to call ‘the correlation of forces’ in the world changes, Russian national interests concerning Europe and France will change.  At that point it may be that someone like Le Pen or Mélenchon will suit Russia better.  However that is not the situation now.

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White House planning to proceed with State of the Union

The White House is still planning to move ahead with next week’s scheduled State of the Union address, but the details remain up in the air.

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According to multiple sources, it remains unclear whether the address scheduled for Jan. 29 will in fact go forward, or what venue it would be in. The White House is even planning for the possibility of a speech outside of Washington.

“We are still in a holding pattern,” one senior source said.

But Fox News has learned that the White House sent a letter to the House Sergeant at Arms asking to schedule a walk-through for next week’s planned address. This comes after a previously scheduled walk-through last week was canceled at Pelosi’s request.

At the moment, President Trump intends to be at the Capitol next Tuesday to deliver his speech as scheduled, sources said. White House officials told Fox News they essentially are preparing for two tracks for next week’s speech. The preferred track is an address, as per custom, at the Capitol. The second track is a backup plan for a speech outside of Washington, D.C.

Ultimately, whether the speech is given on the House floor is up to Pelosi. In an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley suggested the president could move the location of the speech should Pelosi block it in the House.

“There are many ways he can deliver the State of the Union address,” Gidley said on “America’s Newsroom.” “I’m not going to get ahead of anything he would announce.”

Gidley accused Pelosi of “trying to play politics with that venue.” He also dinged the speaker for suggesting it may be difficult to provide security for the event because of the partial government shutdown.

“If the Secret Service can protect the president of the United States on a trip to Iraq, chances are they can protect the American president in the halls of Congress,” Gidley said.

A spokesman for Pelosi did not immediately return a request for comment. Neither did the House Sergeant at Arms office.

On Capitol Hill, there is immense uncertainty about what will happen. The offices of other congressional leaders referred questions about the speech to Pelosi.

“We are standing by to stand by,” one senior congressional official told Fox News when asked if the State of the Union speech would still unfold.

For that to happen in the House, both chambers of Congress must approve a resolution to use the House chamber and to have both bodies meet in a Joint Session of Congress. This has not happened yet.

Should the Senate move to host the president instead, a resolution would still be needed.

The White House and Pelosi have time to figure things out. Fox News is told Congress can actually put together the event rather quickly, though they would prefer to have at least 72 hours advance notice.

Last week, Pelosi urged Trump to delay his State of the Union address until the partial government shutdown ends, or submit the address in writing.

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless the government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to Congress on January 29,” Pelosi wrote.

A senior Homeland Security official later told Fox News, however, that they have been preparing for months for the State of the Union event.

“We are ready,” the official said. “Despite the fact members of the Secret Service are not being paid, the protective mission has not changed.”

The official added: “It is a ‘no fail’ mission.”

On Tuesday, an official confirmed to Fox News that DHS and the Secret Service are continuing their plans for a State of the Union on Jan 29.

After Pelosi called for a delay in the speech, Trump abruptly denied military aircraft to her and other Democrats for a foreign trip just minutes before the congressional delegation was set to depart.

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Sweden: New Government, Old Policies

Swedish political leaders are opposed to the policies of the Sweden Democrats concerning immigration.

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Authored by Judith Bergman via The Gatestone Institute:


  • Keeping the Sweden Democrats away from any kind of political influence seemingly became the main reason the government crisis lasted so long. Swedish political leaders are especially opposed to the policies of the Sweden Democrats concerning immigration.
  • “Sweden needs to build a migration policy from scratch, with fixed rules, and respect for the country’s borders, citizens and laws… Fire brigades and ambulances cannot move into immigrant-dominated areas without armed escort. Those who live and work in our suburbs get their stores robbed, broken or taken over by criminals. The few perpetrators who are actually sentenced for serious crimes escape with mild punishment, while their victims do not receive support or redress. As a result of the uncontrolled immigration, terrorists… walk freely on the streets and squares and utilize our welfare and asylum systems.” — Sweden Democrats.
  • There is not a word in the new agreement about terrorism and internal security, even though the Swedish Security Service (Säpo), in a January 15 press release, stated, “The level of the terror threat remains elevated, a three on a five-point scale. This means that a terrorist act is likely to occur”.

On January 18, more than four months after Sweden’s September elections, Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven became prime minister for a second term, when he won the backing of the Swedish parliament: 115 parliamentarians from his own party and its coalition partner (the environmentalist Green Party) voted for his proposed government coalition, while 77 parliamentarians abstained and 153 voted against. There are 349 seats in the parliament.

Under Swedish parliamentary rules, a prospective prime minister can form a government even if he has not secured a majority of votes, as long as there is not a majority against him in parliament. Löfven was far from winning a majority of votes, prompting the question whether, despite becoming prime minister for a second term, he actually won the election.

The question is actually debatable: Löfven’s Social Democratic party experienced its worst election result ever, gaining only 28.3 % of the vote. It is the first time the party has ever received less than 30% of the vote; its government coalition partner, the Green Party, barely made it above the electoral threshhold, with only 4.4 % of the vote. (The electoral threshhold is 4%).

The prolonged coalition wrangling began after the results of the September 9 elections made it clear that Sweden’s traditional center-left and center-right blocs had each gained around 40% of the vote, yet were unable to find ways to build a government coalition without either involving the opposing bloc or the Sweden Democrats (SD). Keeping the Sweden Democrats away from any kind of political influence, seemingly became the main reason the government crisis lasted so long. Throughout the government’s negotiations, the Sweden Democrats, with 17.5 % of the vote, and now the third-largest party in parliament, representing the more than one million people who voted for them (out of 6.5 million votes in total) remained an isolated outsider, shunned by all political leaders.

“It is … about decency, a decent democracy. A government led by the Social Democrats guarantees that the Sweden Democrats — an extremist and racist party — do not get influence”, Löfven said on September 9, as he was casting his vote.

“My values are not SD’s”, said the leader of the center-right bloc, Ulf Kristersson, a year ago, about whether he would be willing to talk to the Sweden Democrats. “I will not cooperate, converse, collaborate, [or] co-ordinate with SD”. He repeatedthe same message in November, two months after the September 9 elections: “I do not speak to, or negotiate with, the Sweden Democrats”, he told Swedish television. “That is not because I do not respect their voters but I want to talk to those with whom I would like to cooperate.”

Swedish political leaders are especially opposed to the policies of the Sweden Democrats concerning immigration. According to the Sweden Democrats election platform:

“For decades Sweden’s migration policy has been handled in an irresponsible and ignorant way, with serious consequences for Swedish society A very high number of asylum seekers and their relatives has divided society, cultivated exclusion and eroded welfare state. At the same time, safety has been compromised… Today tens of thousands of people are staying illegally within the country’s borders and Sweden is internationally known for unrest and citizens who are active in terrorist networks… Sweden needs to build a migration policy from scratch, with fixed rules, and respect for the country’s borders, citizens and laws”.

As part of such a policy, the Sweden Democrats say they want “to stop receiving asylum seekers in Sweden”, as well as “sharpen the requirements to become Swedish citizens” and “enable revocation of citizenship that has been granted in error”. They also say they want to give the police “tools and resources to search for people who are staying in the country illegally… and allow for longer stays in detention if expulsion cannot be enforced immediately”. In addition, they say they would “Strive for agreements with other countries to be able to expel more people…”

The Sweden Democrats also note that they want a tougher approach to law and order:

“Current and former governments have seriously harmed confidence in the judicial system. Police quit [their jobs] as a result of poor working conditions and growing threats. Fire brigades and ambulances cannot move into immigrant-dominated areas without armed escort. Those who live and work in our suburbs get their stores robbed, broken or taken over by criminals. The few perpetrators who are actually sentenced for serious crimes escape with mild punishment, while their victims do not receive support or redress. As a result of the uncontrolled immigration, terrorists… walk freely on the streets and squares and utilize our welfare and asylum systems. Jews flee Swedish cities while anti-Semitism grows stronger. The social contract is about to be broken on the part of public Sweden”.

To counter this, the Sweden Democrats want to introduce, among other things, “wide-ranging penalties and, in particular, raise the minimum penalty for repeated and serious crimes”. They also want to introduce “compulsory expulsion of grossly criminal foreigners and the possibility to recall citizenship in case of terrorist offenses”. The Sweden Democrats would also like Sweden to leave the EU, and to have a referendum on the issue, something to which almost all the other political parties are strongly opposed.

None of the other parties wants even to consider a dialogue about these issues with the Sweden Democrats. Prime Minister Löfven, in fact, on January 18, spokeas if Sweden’s political leaders, in keeping the Sweden Democrats politically isolated, had just pulled back from the edge of an abyss, the extreme irony of his words clearly lost on himself:

“More and more governments around the world are becoming dependent on parties with an anti-democratic agenda. In the 2018 election, Sweden stood before a similar threat: getting a small right-wing government in the hands of the Swedish Democrats. But in Sweden we stand up for democracy and the equality of people. Sweden chooses a different path and it is historic.

“It has not been easy, but Sweden’s centrist parties have gathered and done what is required. Through the January agreement, Sweden gets a new government based on collaboration in the center of Swedish politics. Sweden gets a powerful government that is not dependent on the Sweden Democrats… The biggest winner is Sweden”.

The January agreement to which Löfven is referring formed the basis of a new political alliance between Löfven’s party and his environmental coalition partner on one hand, and two small parties from the center-right bloc, which decided to break with traditional bloc politics and support the Social Democratic government. It will also form the basis for the new government’s policies. Annie Lööf, the leader of the Center Party (one of the two breakout center-right parties), explained why she had chosen to support Löfven’s government, which, during the elections, she had campaigned to replace:

“The 2018 election was a choice of values. The Center Party chose to stand up for humanity, equality and tolerance. We fought against xenophobia… With this agreement we stand up for our values, while at the same time putting a government in place. It is a solution where neither the Sweden Democrats nor the [far-left] Left Party is given influence over politics.”

Swedish voters appear unimpressed with the way the collective of Swedish political leaders have handled this period of coalition squabbling. A January opinion poll revealed that if elections were to take place now, the Sweden Democrats would go from 17.5% to 19.9% of the vote, becoming the second-largest party in Sweden. The Green Party, the Social Democratic Party’s government coalition partner, would not even make the electoral threshold; neither would one of the two breakout center-right parties that supported Löfven’s government. The other center-right party would lose 30% of its voters.

A different January poll showed that 70% of the Swedes have lost confidence in politicians. “The low level of confidence is startling but not completely unexpected”, said Torbjörn Sjöström, from Novus, the company behind the poll.

“There has been a crisis of confidence for quite some time. The high voter mobility that we have had during the last mandate periods and that SD [Sweden Democrats] has increased so strongly is a sign of a reduced confidence in the political system.

“During the four months that have passed, politics has shown that power seems to be most important, and that political solutions are subordinate. [Politicians] talked about a fateful election but then the country managed and kept on managing for four months without a government, so [politicians] have also shown that politics is not as important as they claimed”.

The loss of confidence in politicians was particularly high — 93% — among people who had voted for the Sweden Democrats. “They think they have seen evidence that democracy does not work. They are the third-largest party, but have been completely outmaneuvered,” said Sjöström, referring to the fact that every single political leader in Swedish politics refused even to talk to the Sweden Democrats.

So, what does the new government promise to do on the most pressing issues, such as immigration and law and order? According to the January agreementbetween the Social Democratic government and its center-right supporters:

“Sweden is a fantastic country but we are facing great challenges together: climate change, lack of integration, segregation and dependency, globalization, which continues to test our competitiveness… increased polarization and racism, gang crime… housing shortages … The proposals in this agreement can vigorously meet these challenges by untying old knots and bringing about systemic changes… Our parties have different ideological starting points but are united in the defense of the liberal foundations of democracy; a strong rule of law, an unwavering protection of the individual’s freedom and rights, resistance to xenophobia, independent free media, equality and equal conditions regardless of background”.

The agreement mentions the issue of migration on page 15 of its 16 pages. It does not, however, mention any of the problematic issues that migration has brought upon Sweden — although it does talk about ideas to get more immigrants into the job market and learning Swedish, as well as proposals to deal with honor killings. Ironically, it actually creates a basis for even more immigration. According to the agreement, Sweden will reintroduce the right to family reunion for those people granted asylum in Sweden who do not have refugee status. This means that they will be able to bring their spouses and children to Sweden, while unaccompanied children will be able to bring their parents. This repatriation is estimated to bring at least 8,000 more people to Sweden in the coming three years. According to Henrik Emilsson, Ph.D of international migration at Malmö University, the change will affect asylum immigration:

“Family reunification is something that is very important for people seeking asylum. The information about which countries have which rules spreads quickly and affects where people apply”.

The issues of “safety, security and democracy” are mentioned only on the last page of the agreement, perhaps indicative of the assigned priority. (By comparison, there are two pages about climate change and the environment).

Here is what the new government plans, but without a word as to how it intends to do it:

“Security throughout Sweden will increase… We take action against organized crime, strengthen the police and combat both crimes and causes of crimes. Democracy must be safeguarded, both here and in the world. The work against violent extremism, anti-gypsyism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and any other forms of racism must be strengthened”.

The agreement also promises “ten thousand more police officers” and pledges, “Sweden’s [foreign] aid will be raised to 1% of the gross national income”.

There is not a word in the agreement about the threat from Islamic terrorism, even though the Swedish Security Service’s (Säpo) January 15 press release stated, “Violence-promoting Islamist extremism currently constitutes the biggest threat to Sweden” and, “The level of the terror threat remains elevated, a three on a five-point scale. This means that a terrorist act is likely to occur”.

Judith Bergman, a columnist, lawyer and political analyst, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

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Fake news media FREAK OUT over Trump and NATO (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 172.

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the media meltdown over remarks that U.S. President Trump may have made with regard to NATO, and how neo-liberal war hawks championing the alliance as some sort of foreign policy projection of peace and democracy, are really just supporting aggression, war, and the eventual weakening of the United States.

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Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO, Authored by David Swanson:


The New York Times loves NATO, but should you?

Judging by comments in social media and the real world, millions of people in the United States have gone from having little or no opinion on NATO, or from opposing NATO as the world’s biggest military force responsible for disastrous wars in places like Afghanistan (for Democrats) or Libya (for Republicans), to believing NATO to be a tremendous force for good in the world.

I believe this notion to be propped up by a series of misconceptions that stand in dire need of correction.

1. NATO is not a war-legalizing body, quite the opposite. NATO, like the United Nations, is an international institution that has something or other to do with war, but transferring the UN’s claimed authority to legalize a war to NATO has no support whatsoever in reality. The crime of attacking another nation maintains an absolutely unaltered legal status whether or not NATO is involved. Yet NATO is used within the U.S. and by other NATO members as cover to wage wars under the pretense that they are somehow more legal or acceptable. This misconception is not the only way in which NATO works against the rule of law. Placing a primarily-U.S. war under the banner of NATO also helps to prevent Congressional oversight of that war. Placing nuclear weapons in “non-nuclear” nations, in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, is also excused with the claim that the nations are NATO members (so what?). And NATO, of course, assigns nations the responsibility to go to war if other nations go to war — a responsibility that requires them to be prepared for war, with all the damage such preparation does.

2. NATO is not a defensive institution. According to the New York Times, NATO has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is an article of faith, based on the unsubstantiated belief that Soviet and Russian aggression toward NATO members has existed for 70 years and that NATO has deterred it rather than provoked it. In violation of a promise made, NATO has expanded eastward, right up to the border of Russia, and installed missiles there. Russia has not done the reverse. The Soviet Union has, of course, ended. NATO has waged aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic, bombing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has added a partnership with Colombia, abandoning all pretense of its purpose being in the North Atlantic. No NATO member has been attacked or credibly threatened with attack, apart from small-scale non-state blowback from NATO’s wars of aggression.

3. Trump is not trying to destroy NATO. Donald Trump, as a candidate and as U.S. President, has wondered aloud and even promised all kinds of things and, in many cases, the exact opposite as well. When it comes to actions, Trump has not taken any actions to limit or end or withdraw from NATO. He has demanded that NATO members buy more weapons, which is of course a horrible idea. Even in the realm of rhetoric, when European officials have discussed creating a European military, independent of the United States, Trump has replied by demanding that they instead support NATO.

4. If Trump were trying to destroy NATO, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Trump has claimed to want to destroy lots of things, good and bad. Should I support NAFTA or corporate media or the Cold War or the F35 or anything at all, simply because some negative comment about it escapes Trump’s mouth? Should I cheer for every abuse ever committed by the CIA or the FBI because they investigate Trump? Should I long for hostility between nuclear-armed governments because Democrats claim Trump is a Russian agent? When Trump defies Russia to expand NATO, or to withdraw from a disarmament treaty or from an agreement with Iran, or to ship weapons to Ukraine, or to try to block Russian energy deals in Europe, or to oppose Russian initiatives on banning cyber-war or weapons in space, should I cheer for such consistent defiance of Trump’s Russian master, and do so simply because Russia is, so implausibly, his so-inept master? Or should I form my own opinion of things, including of NATO?

5. Trump is not working for, and was not elected by, Russia.According to the New York Times, “Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said.” But are anonymous “American officials” really needed to acquire Russia’s openly expressed opinion that NATO is a threatening military alliance that has moved weapons and troops to states on Russia’s border? And has anyone produced the slightest documentation of the Russian government’s aims in an activity it has never admitted to, namely “meddling in American elections,” — an activity the United States has of course openly admitted to in regard to Russian elections? We have yet to see any evidence that Russia stole or otherwise acquired any of the Democratic Party emails that documented that party’s rigging of its primary elections in favor of Clinton over Sanders, or even any claim that the tiny amount of weird Facebook ads purchased by Russians could possibly have influenced the outcome of anything. Supposedly Trump is even serving Russia by demanding that Turkey not attack Kurds. But is using non-military means to discourage Turkish war-making necessarily the worst thing? Would it be if your favorite party or politician did it? If Trump encouraged a Turkish war, would that also be a bad thing because Trump did it, or would it be a bad thing for substantive reasons?

6. If Trump were elected by and working for Russia, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Imagine if Boris Yeltsin were indebted to the United States and ended the Soviet Union. Would that tell us whether ending the Soviet Union was a good thing, or whether the Soviet Union was obsolete for serious reasons? If Trump were a Russian pawn and began reversing all of his policies on Russia to match that status, including restoring his support for the INF Treaty and engaging in major disarmament negotiations, and we ended up with a world of dramatically reduced military spending and nuclear armaments, with the possibility of all dying in a nuclear apocalypse significantly lowered, would that too simply be a bad thing because Trump?

7. Russia is not a military threat to the world. That Russia would cheer NATO’s demise tells us nothing about whether we should cheer too. Numerous individuals and entities who indisputably helped to put Trump in the White House would dramatically oppose and others support NATO’s demise. We can’t go by their opinions either, since they don’t all agree. We really are obliged to think for ourselves. Russia is a heavily armed militarized nation that commits the crime of war not infrequently. Russia is a top weapons supplier to the world. All of that should be denounced for what it is, not because of who Russia is or who Trump is. But Russia spends a tiny fraction of what the United States does on militarism. Russia has been reducing its military spending each year, while the United States has been increasing its military spending. U.S. annual increases have sometimes exceeded Russia’s entire military budget. The United States has bombed nine nations in the past year, Russia one. The United States has troops in 175 nations, Russia in 3. Gallup and Pew find populations around the world viewing the United States, not Russia, as the top threat to peace in the world. Russia has asked to join NATO and the EU and been rejected, NATO members placing more value on Russia as an enemy. Anonymous U.S. military officials describe the current cold war as driven by weapons profits. Those profits are massive, and NATO now accounts for about three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing on the globe.

8. Crimea has not been seized. According to the New York Times, “American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.” Again we have an anonymous claim as to a goal of a government in committing an action that never occurred. We can be fairly certain such things are simply made up. The vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia is commonly called the Seizure of Crimea. This infamous seizure is hard to grasp. It involved a grand total of zero casualties. The vote itself has never been re-done. In fact, to my knowledge, not a single believer in the Seizure of Crimea has ever advocated for re-doing the vote. Coincidentally, polling has repeatedly found the people of Crimea to be happy with their vote. I’ve not seen any written or oral statement from Russia threatening war or violence in Crimea. If the threat was implicit, there remains the problem of being unable to find Crimeans who say they felt threatened. (Although I have seen reports of discrimination against Tartars during the past 4 years.) If the vote was influenced by the implicit threat, there remains the problem that polls consistently get the same result. Of course, a U.S.-backed coup had just occurred in Kiev, meaning that Crimea — just like a Honduran immigrant — was voting to secede from a coup government, by no means an action consistently frowned upon by the United States.

9. NATO is not an engaged alternative to isolationism. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world. A nonviolent, cooperative, treaty-joining, law-enforcing alternative to the imperialism-or-isolationism trap is no more difficult to think of or to act on than treating drug addiction or crime or poverty as reason to help people rather than to punish them. The opposite of bombing people is not ignoring them. The opposite of bombing people is embracing them. By the standards of the U.S. communications corporations Switzerland must be the most isolationist land because it doesn’t join in bombing anyone. The fact that it supports the rule of law and global cooperation, and hosts gatherings of nations seeking to work together is simply not relevant.

10. April 4 belongs to Martin Luther King, Jr., not militarism. War is a leading contributor to the growing global refugee and climate crises, the basis for the militarization of the police, a top cause of the erosion of civil liberties, and a catalyst for racism and bigotry. A growing coalition is calling for the abolition of NATO, the promotion of peace, the redirection of resources to human and environmental needs, and the demilitarization of our cultures. Instead of celebrating NATO’s 70thanniversary, we’re celebrating peace on April 4, in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech against war on April 4, 1967, as well as his assassination on April 4, 1968.

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